The Cognac sector welcomes His Excellency, Lu Shaye, Chinese ambassador to France, and hails 30 years of cooperation with the chinese authorities to protect the Cognac appellation
On 12 October 2023, the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) welcomed His Excellency, Lu Shaye, ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to France on the occasion of his visit to Cognac to inaugurate the “Dragon’s Journey” artistic project and work of art in the vineyards of the Maison CAMUS estate. This encounter was the opportunity for Cognac sector representatives to thank the Chinese authorities for their longstanding support to the BNIC in its mission to protect the Cognac Geographical indication (GI) in China. Over the past 30 years, the BNIC has been working closely with the Chinese administration to ensure the highest level of Cognac protection in China. This collaboration has led to major breakthroughs in the past few months, which have been welcomed by those working in the sector.
30 YEARS OF COOPERATION TO PROTECT THE COGNAC APPELLATION
Cooperation between the Chinese authorities and the Cognac sector first began 30 years ago. In November 1993, the BNIC met with the Trademark Office of the People’s Republic of China and France’s National Industrial Property Institute (INPI) to start substantive work on protecting the Cognac brand on Chinese territory. Since then, numerous cooperative actions have been implemented to strengthen the protection of the Cognac appellation in the interests of Chinese consumers and Cognac sector operators.
On 18 December 2009, Cognac became the first foreign GI to be registered with the AQSIQ (General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine) in China. At the time, this registration offered an unprecedented level of protection for foreign GI products and has paved the way for further recognition. It has been followed by the registration of the collective Cognac trademark in 2020 and the implementation of an EU-China agreement on GIs in 2021, which have been key steps for the sector. These developments have helped to guarantee product authenticity for Chinese consumers, since only wine spirits produced in the Cognac delimited area according to strict production conditions stipulated in the specifications can use the term “Cognac” in French and Chinese. “The recognition and protection which the GI benefits from have been obtained thanks to the excellent collaboration between the Chinese authorities, our sector and the BNIC teams, in conjunction with the French authorities and the European Union. This cooperation remains an example for us to follow in Cognac and I would like to thank His Excellency, Lu Shaye, for honouring us with his visit.”, announced Christophe Veral, President of the BNIC.
PROVEN COGNAC PROTECTION IN CHINA
In the context of this cooperation, the Chinese authorities, backed by judicial rulings, have regularly taken action, in particular seizing counterfeits at trade fairs. Identifying counterfeits is possible thanks to the training provided by the BNIC teams to local customs teams.
As a result of certain decisions issued in recent years, the Chinese authorities have condemned counterfeiters to either destroy their products or pay significant fines.More recently, the BNIC has referred several cases to the Chinese courts, which have sentenced brands for usurping the Cognac GI. In August 2023, this led to a major success against two automobile companies who were tried for the abusive use of the “Cognac” name (see textbox). These breakthroughs are the culmination of many years of cooperation between the Chinese authorities, the BNIC and the French and European authorities. Alexandre Gabriel, Vice-President of the BNIC, stated that: “These measures taken by the Chinese authorities are incredibly positive for the Cognac sector and region at large. In fact, the status of the Cognac Geographical Indication ensures that a substantial part of the value generated on the markets returns to France and its production region. It is a key element in our business model, which the entire sector wishes to protect worldwide. We would like to thank the Chinese authorities for supporting us in our mission.”
STRENGTHENED, CONTINUED COOPERATION
This collaboration between the BNIC and the Chinese administration was strengthened a year ago through the opening of a representative office in Beijing to advocate the interests of the Cognac sector in China. In particular, it ensures permanent dialogue with the various competent authorities, from both economic and regulatory standpoints. The office should be inaugurated soon.
Protecting the Cognac GI is a key priority for the BNIC, which works on all its markets to defend it at the international, national and local levels.
MAJOR SUCCESSES FOR COGNAC IN CHINA
As part of its mission to protect the Cognac Geographical Indication (GI) worldwide, the BNIC works on and implements numerous measures to preserve the sector’s collective heritage.
© BNIC / Aurélien Terrade
ABOUT THE BNIC
The BNIC, or Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac, represents, develops and preserves the Cognac AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée), both in France and abroad.
In the 150 or so countries where Cognac is sold, this Geographical Indication 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 industry, the BNIC is a coordination and decision-making body which brings together almost 4,300 winegrowers and grower-distillers, 120 professional distillers, and 265 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.