Ahead of the BRICS Summit in Goa, China on Sunday mooted a free trade area for the five-member bloc of emerging countries saying that such a move would constitute “significant form of cooperation”.

By setting up a free trade area, BRICS countries would be able to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers, give play to their comparative advantages and advance trade and investment liberalisation between them, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOC) spokesperson Shen Danyang told a press briefing.

China has not formally raised the issue for an upcoming BRICS meeting, but many experts have proposed a free trade area, he was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

A free trade area would help BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — achieve mutual benefit and development and promote South—South cooperation on a global scale, Mr. Shen said.

Such a move would constitute “significant form of cooperation”, he said.

BRICS trade ministers will meet in New Delhi later this week to discuss world economic trends and their influence on BRICS trade and investment which will be followed by the grouping’s summit to be held on October 15 and 16 in Goa.

The meeting is expected to deepen cooperation in areas including intellectual property rights, trade promotion and small businesses, Mr. Shen said.

BRICS bloc has made steady progress establishing the New Development Bank (NDB).

The NDB is established with an initial subscribed capital of $50 billion with total paid-in capital of $10 billion.

The founding members of the NDB have already brought in capital of $ one billion as initial contribution.