Colombo, March 14: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said global confidence in India has been restored and the world's engagement with the country is at a "new level" even as he assured Sri Lanka that steps would be taken to address its concerns over the huge bilateral trade imbalance.
Modi said this while asserting that India and Sri Lanka should move "boldly" to conclude a long pending Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
Stating that Sri Lanka has the potential to be India's "strongest economic partner" in the region, Modi said it should not worry about India's economic size.
In his address to Sri Lanka's business community at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce here last night, the Prime Minister acknowledged that there were concerns in Sri Lanka about the huge trade imbalance.
"I am prepared to work with you to address them. I want balanced growth in trade. We will try to make it easier and smoother for you to access the Indian market," he said on the first day of his two-day visit to the country, the first by an Indian Prime Minister since 1987.
Modi said Sri Lanka has the potential to be India's "strongest economic partner"
Sri Lanka is India's major trading partner in South Asia. The bilateral trade between India and Sri Lanka in 2013-14 was USD 5.23 billion with Indian exports amounting to USD 3.98 billion and Sri Lankan exports amounting to USD 678 million.
"I often say that a nation's fortunes are linked to its neighbourhood. There are many in India who would argue that India is too large to need her neighbours. There are many in our region who worry that India's economic size will hurt them. I disagree with both views.
For one, we all need a stable and peaceful neighbourhood to concentrate on national development," he added.
"There are already powerful examples in South Asia that show us that differences in size is no constraint to beneficial partnerships, if we use our strengths and seize our opportunities".