New customs duties in the United States: the cognac sector calls on the president of the French RepublicPress release





Today in Cognac, representatives of the BNIC met with the Agricultural Advisor to the French President, who travelled here especially as part of the Presidential visit to Jarnac. This is because direct and personal action from the French President is necessary in order to stop the trade dispute under way between the United States, the European Union and France, which is now affecting the Cognac industry.

This Friday, 8 January, the Agricultural Advisor to the President of the French Republic was welcomed at the BNIC by its President, Christophe Véral, Vice-President Alexandre Gabriel, Florent Morillon representing merchants and Anthony Brun representing winegrowers, in addition to Eric Le Gall, the President of the Syndicat des Maisons de Négoce (SMC) and the Managing Director of the BNIC, Raphaël Delpech.

On 6 January, representatives of the Cognac sector sent a letter to the French President. The next day, on 7 January, Christophe Véral was in Paris with representatives of the French winegrowing industry to speak with four ministers. At this meeting, announcements were made about the possibility of compensation for the wine sector, which has already suffered from US sanctions resulting from the legal dispute between Airbus-Boeing. Out of solidarity, the Cognac sector fully supports this course of action since the exporters concerned have already suffered unacceptable hardship in recent months. However, as far as the Cognac sector is concerned, it does not benefit sufficiently from this action. “Rather than mentioning compensation, the urgency is to stop diplomatic one-upmanship. Prevention is better than cure”, explained BNIC president Christophe Véral.

The meeting at the BNIC is proof of the French President’s interest in Cognac, for which the industry thanked the Advisor. The meeting took place in an atmosphere of listening and constructive input, with discussions highlighting the serious nature of the case, especially considering Cognac’s economic importance. However, it also highlighted the potentially strong impact on the production region and on the French trade balance if the case is not dealt with immediately. Indeed, Cognac generates more than 60,000 jobs and contributes greatly to the dynamic of French wine and spirits exports. It represents nearly 25% in terms of value and almost 75% of the total value of French exports of spirits. It should be remembered that the wine and spirits sector was the second leading category of French exports in 2019, worth nearly 13 billion euros.

Following the meeting, the Cognac sector hopes that the French President will become involved directly and personally as soon as the new US administration takes office, seeing as it now controls the US Congress and Senate, and can lead negotiations to start a process of real de-escalation. Highly concrete discussions must be held to resolve the Airbus-Boeing dispute since it may result in even stronger sanctions on French wines and spirits.

It is absolutely crucial to reach an agreement so that wines and spirits on both sides of the Atlantic are no longer affected by retaliatory measures in trade disputes that do not concern them. The levying of customs duties previously in place on Trans-Atlantic shipments of spirits must also be reinstated as soon as possible.

These political contacts should be made at the end of the month and everything must be done before then to ease the situation. “Given its contribution to the French economy, the Cognac sector will not resign to becoming a casualty of these tensions”, warned Christophe Véral.


The BNIC, or Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac, represents, develops and preserves the Cognac Protected Designation of Origin, both in France and abroad. In the 160 countries where Cognac is sold, this AOC provides consumers with a guarantee that they are buying an outstanding wine spirit. Comprising an equal number of members from the winegrowing and commercial sides of the sector, the BNIC is a coordination and decision-making body which brings together almost 4,300 winegrowers, 110 professional distillers, and 270 merchants operating within the appellation. The BNIC defends the interests of Cognac producers and consumers, with an unwavering commitment to everyone with an interest in this appellation. cognac.fr/en/bnic