French cognac makers hit back at Chinese anti-dumping probe

PARIS (Reuters) – French cognac makers have hit back at claims by China that they are dumping brandy in the Chinese market, saying the price discounts alleged are unusually small for such a formal investigation.

That “raises the question of the real purpose of the process”, the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), which represents French cognac makers, said in a statement to Reuters.

Last week China opened an anti-dumping investigation on brandy imported from the European Union, a step that appears to be mainly targeted at France and adds to ongoing trade disputes between Beijing and Brussels.

BNIC said in its statement that China’s commerce ministry launched the investigation of alleged dumping of European brandy based on price reductions of 15.88%.

“This level appears singularly low compared to what is generally accepted as justification for an anti-dumping investigation,” it said.

News of China’s investigation knocked shares in French spirits companies Remy Cointreau and Pernod Ricard lower on Jan. 5.

Trade disputes between China and Europe have been mounting over the past year, with both sides exchanging accusations of unfair competition and protectionism.

BNIC said the unusually small discount alleged to launch the Chinese probe “reinforces our conviction that our future exchanges with the Chinese authorities will demonstrate that our commercial practices are fully compliant with Chinese and international regulations.”

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Susan Fenton)