While addressing to Sri Lanka's business community at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, 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, the first by an Indian Prime Minister since 1987.
"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 that worries 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 a difference in size is no constraint to beneficial partnerships, if we use our strengths and seize our opportunities".
Sri Lanka is India's major trading partner in South Asia. The bilateral trade between India and Sri Lanka in 2013-14 was US dollar 5.23 billion with Indian exports amounting to US dollar 3.98 billion and Sri Lankan exports amounting to USD 678 million.