Ministerial meeting at the BNIC concerning american customs duties : the Cognac sector assured of impending action from France and Europe towards WashingtonPress release





Aware of the threat posed by the introduction of new customs duties on Cognac exports to the United States, Franck Riester, Delegate to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs in charge of Foreign Trade and Competitiveness, went to meet representatives of the Cognac sector today. During a meeting held at the BNIC, Cognac sector representatives reiterated the necessity for an immediate de-escalation and tangible commitments were made by the Minister.

On Thursday 25 February, the Minister Delegate for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Franck Riester, was welcomed at the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) by its President, Mr Christophe Veral, its Vice-President, Mr Alexandre Gabriel, Mr Florent Morillon representing sales, and Mr Anthony Brun representing winegrowers, as well as Mr Éric Le Gall, President of the Syndicat des Maisons de Négoce (SMC), and the Managing Director of the BNIC, Mr Raphaël Delpech.

A fruitful discussion took place concerning the customs duties levied on Cognac by the United States since 12 January, attended by the Prefect of the Charente department, Ms Magali Debatte, Parliament Members Sandra Marsaud and Thomas Mesnier, Senator François Bonneau, the President of the Charente Departmental Council and President of the Greater Cognac Metropolitan Area, Mr Jérôme Sourisseau, Cognac Mayor, Mr Morgan Berger and Deputy Regional Councillor Jonathan Munoz. These tariffs have posed a significant threat to the Cognac economy and region.

For the Cognac sector, actions taken by Mr Franck Riester prove that the seriousness of the situation is being taken into account at the highest level and its representatives warmly thanked him for this.

During the meeting, the Cognac sector expressed the need to reach an immediate de-escalation in trade tensions with the United States, and to put an end to the Airbus-Boeing conflict of which it has now become a collateral victim in spite of itself. They asked the Minister to convince the European Commission to stop targeting American wines and spirits, which thereby exposes Cognac and the entire French wine and spirits sector to punitive retaliatory measures.

The Minister first highlighted the weight and importance of the Cognac sector in the French economy and also underlined “the outstanding results” reported by Cognac stakeholders in 2020 during the health crisis.

He went on to say that the French government and President were making it a priority to de-escalate the situation with the United States and abolish these tariffs. He announced that the French and European authorities would immediately contact President Biden’s trade representative, who was due to be confirmed by the US Senate today, to propose substantive negotiations preceded by a moratorium on wine and spirits tariffs on both sides of the Atlantic.

At a time when the real impact of the tariffs is beginning to be felt within the Cognac sector, these tangible commitments made by the Minister were very positively received by sector representatives, who will closely follow their implementation in the coming days.

The Cognac sector is showing strong growth prospects with an objective of shipping 300 million bottles per year by 2035 and creating 15,000 additional jobs. Wines and spirits are France’s 2nd largest export category. Cognac represents nearly 23% of total shipments of French wines and spirits by value and almost 73% of the total value of French spirits.

Photo © BNIC

François Bonneau / Éric Le Gall / Anthony Brun / Thomas Mesnier / Jérôme Sourisseau
Florent Morillon / Christophe Veral / Franck Riester / Alexandre Gabriel /Sandra Marsaud / Magali Debatte


The BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac) represents, fosters and protects the Cognac Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée in France and abroad. In the 150 countries where Cognac is sold, this AOC assures consumers a product of exceptional quality. With a membership that equally represents the agricultural and commercial interests of Cognac, the BNIC is the consultative and decision-making body for the 4,260 winegrowers, 120 distillers and 280 merchants of the Cognac appellation.