[01 September/The Country] Hopes are running high that India could be the next big thing for New Zealand sheep meat exports if the two countries form closer economic ties through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).The meat industry has expectations that RCEP will form a platform that will allow New Zealand access to India, which at the moment imposes high tariffs on imported goods. The meat industry hopes that a similar dynamic to our partnership with China may take place in India, due to its big population, rising middle class and its GDP growth of around 6 to 7 per cent a year. In just 10 years, China has become the biggest export destination for sheepmeat and beef. New Zealand beef exports to China from May to July were up by 105 per cent year on year by value and by 91 per cent by volume. Invercargill-based Alliance Group, New Zealand’s biggest sheep meat exporter, has set its sights on India and has exporting small amounts of sheep meat since 2012 but can currently only market to top end consumers due to tariffs of 38 percent on landed product. The RCEP could change this.