KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia� Malaysia is committed to helping finalise the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by year-end, together with 15 other nations, with the aim of increasing economic trade in Asia.

International Trade and Industry Minister (MITI) Mustapa Mohamed said efforts towards this end are being actively carried out, including the meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, from May 21-22 this year.

The meeting was attended by ministers and deputy ministers from ASEAN, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea and India.

The negotiations began in 2013, and the delay in finalising the agreement was because it involves 16 countries, but all are committed to finalising the agreement.

All 16 nations are in the process of working out the details with regards to the terms and conditions as discussed during the latest ministerial level meeting which prioritised implementation by 2017, he said during the Minister’s Question Time at the Dewan Rakyat (Lower Court) today.

He was responding to a question from Rozman Isli (BN-Labuan) on the progress of the RCEP negotiations and whether Malaysia was still committed to continuing with negotiations.

Mustapa said the negotiations are aimed at ensuring uniformity in the regulations among the 16 nations to ease investments and trade in the region.

He said the RCEP has the potential to shape the international trade agenda through the liberalisation of trade from the product, services and investments aspects on a deeper and larger scale, which roughly encompasses more than half of the world’s population.

As a major ASEAN economy, Malaysia will be able to benefit from the efforts to strengthen trade between RCEP partners, while local companies can explore opportunities to expand in the region, he added.