Malaysia would enjoy better access and market liberalisation under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) than the commitments under the ASEAN Free-Trade Agreement (FTA), the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan said RCEP benefits included coordination and standardisation of rules and procedures that were now different for each ASEAN FTA and six dialogue partners -- China, India, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and South Korea.

"With RCEP, the private sector would be able to save costs and reduce time in their business dealings," he said when replying to a question from Charles Anthony R Santiago (DAP-Klang) on the cost benefit analysis of RCEP on Malaysia's economy.

Ahmad said RCEP would also open up opportunities for local businesses to obtain raw materials of good quality at cheaper prices, which could be applied to assess the Rules of Origin compliance.

He said RCEP would help ease the integration of companies in this region in the global value change, making businesses more competitive at the international level and spurring them to become global players.

"RCEP would become the first trade agreement between China and India, and provide opportunities for Malaysia and other ASEAN countries to widen their exports and services to both markets," he said.

He said RCEP negotiations were important to gain market access for Malaysian products as the grouping was home to 3.3. billion people, accounting for almost 50 per cent of global population.

Responding to a supplementary question from Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) on the difference between RCEP and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Ahmad said RCEP covered a larger market size than TPP's 800 million people.

Unlike the TPP, he said RCEP would not encompass matters concerning government procurement, environment or labour.

"RCEP has been negotiated 17 times at the official level and six times at the ministerial level. Another five negotiations at the official level and one at the ministerial level are scheduled for this year," he said, adding that the ministry hoped RCEP would be finalised this year.