He impressed upon the audience the importance of this pact for Sri Lanka and South Indian states.
The five states — Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Telangana — have a population of 250 million and a combined GDP of nearly $450 billion and with the addition of Sri Lanka of 22 million people and $80 billion economy, the GDP "in the sub-region will be $500 billion", he said.
"Just imagine if we work together," the Prime Minister said, adding that ETCA has the potential to promote a growth of $500 billion sub-regional economy.
ETCA is expected to help Sri Lanka gain better access to India's rapidly growing market. Wickremesinghe also said the economic asymmetry between the countries is going to increase in future when the "latter (India) emerges as the major global player in an increasingly multi-polar world".
He added that India and Sri Lanka FTA will be further expanded and deepened to go beyond trading in goods to cover trade in services, investments and technology co-operation.
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