As emerging Asian economies facilitate growth in the region and increasingly stand out as important players in global trade, the United States appears intent on getting its own share of the pie in the form of taking a leadership role in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade framework.

Washington has been pressuring Tokyo to join the TPP talks as a means to boost the trade pact's economic significance, but questions remain whether the framework will be equally beneficial to all negotiating countries or merely become an instrument for the U.S. to increase its presence in the region.

At the end of last year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Yokohama, leaders of the nine countries negotiating the TPP endorsed a proposal by U.S. President Barack Obama that set a target for completion of the talks by the APEC summit next week. The goal of the TPP is to eliminate all trade barriers by 2015.