By Emma Rumney

LONDON (Reuters) -Leading European cognac producers will attend a hearing on China’s anti-dumping probe of the industry in Beijing on July 18 – their first chance to defend themselves in person since the investigation began earlier this year, an industry source said.

Companies behind major brands Martell, which is owned by Pernod Ricard, Remy Martin – part of Remy Cointreau – and Hennessy, owned by LVMH, received a summons overnight to attend the hearing, the source said.

“We will go … and they will tell us what questions they want us to answer,” the source said, asking not to be named as they were not authorised to speak on behalf of the industry.

“There may be some leeway to say what we want, which is that we are happy to cooperate but we don’t think there is any dumping and there is no good reason for them to apply duties.”

China announced plans on Friday for the hearing on European brandy imports, ramping up tension on the same day the European Commission’s provisional tariffs on Chinese-made electric vehicles take effect.

Beijing announced its anti-dumping probe on EU brandy in January, saying European brandy producers were selling into China at below-market rates.

France’s cognac makers said they suspected the probe was linked to a broader trade row rather than the liquor market. French cognac accounts for most of China’s brandy imports.

The companies producing Martell, Remy Martin and Hennessy cognac were selected as sample firms for the investigation.


Cognac makers did not call the meeting, the source said. The industry had however previously signalled its willingness to participate in a hearing, which will mark its first opportunity to make a case against tariffs in person, the person said.

The industry “asked to be heard” and will attend the meeting, a spokesperson for industry association the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac said via email, adding the industry will continue to cooperate.

Ultimately, however, its fate will be decided in political negotiations, the industry source said, adding the cognac sector is “cautiously optimistic” now that officials from Beijing and Brussels are meeting to talk face to face.

Some media have reported that provisional tariffs on EU brandy could be announced as soon as August. However, the industry had not been given any information on time lines, the source said.

Chinese statute says that the investigation should conclude within a year, but that this can be extended by up to six months, the source continued. The probe could therefore run until July 2025.

After July’s hearing, investigators may seek more information on how cognac companies price or make their products, or request to visit their sites, the source added.

(Reporting by Emma Rumney;Writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by Jason Neely, Helen Popper and David Evans)

Brought to you by