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China gives first PGI recognition to Cognac

Cognac has become the first Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) ever to be recognised by China, preparing the way for Chinese recognition of other European areas and products.

Cognac’s status was officially announced on the 18th December 2009 by the AQSIQ (General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine).

Created in 1992, the Protected Geographical Indication is a pan-European term used to designate an area, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, a country. It describes an agricultural product or a foodstuff which comes from such a place and which has a specific quality, goodwill or other characteristic property attributable to its geographical origin. The production, processing or preparation takes place within the determined geographical area.

Given the popularity of Cognac in China and its position as top imported spirit on the Chinese market, the BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac) began talks with the Chinese authorities as early as 1995, via Chinese importers, to gain recognition for Cognac as a PGI.

Indeed, China introduced legislation in 2005, which protected some 900 nationally produced products from specified areas but excluded imported goods.

Further discussions throughout 2009 between the Chinese authorities and the President and Director of the BNIC, with support from the EU and the French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, resulted in official recognition of Cognac.

Commenting on the news, the BNIC’s director, Alain Philippe, said, “This is a very fitting end to the Centenary Year of the official recognition of the Cognac appellation. That Cognac is the first European PGI to be recognised by the Chinese reflects the international importance of Cognac as an economic locomotive.  It is a very proud day for us.”


1 January 2010 - Felicity Murray