French cognac makers surge as Macron hints at cooling of China trade dispute

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping after delivering a joint statement at the Elysee Palace, as part of the Chinese president’s two-day state visit in France, in Paris on May 6, 2024. The French president his Chinese counterpart for a state visit on May 6, 2024, seeking to persuade the Chinese leader to shift positions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and also imbalances in global trade. (Photo by Sarah Meyssonnier / POOL / AFP) (Photo by SARAH MEYSSONNIER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Sarah Meyssonnier | Afp | Getty Images

Shares of several French cognac makers rallied on Tuesday after France’s President Emmanuel Macron suggested that trade tensions between China and the European Union, which could impact the drinks makers, may ease.

Two of France’s biggest cognac producers, Pernod Ricard and Remy Cointreau, were up 3% and 8.1% respectively as of 10:40 London time on Tuesday.

Neither Pernod Ricard nor Remy Cointreau immediately responded to CNBC’s request for comment.

France’s Macron on Monday addressed the ongoing trade dispute with Chinese President Xi Jinping and gifted him a top-range bottle of French cognac which reportedly retails at over $3,200. Xi is currently visiting Europe and meeting leaders across the continent.

“I thank the president for his open attitude regarding provisional measures on cognac and for his wish not to implement them,” Macron said in a press conference on Monday.

Earlier this year, China had launched an anti-dumping probe into EU cognac makers, which could lead to tariffs being imposed on imports of the spirit. China’s ministry of commerce at the time said it had received the request for the investigation from the China Liquor Industry Association on behalf of the domestic brandy industry, according to a statement translated by CNBC via Google translate.

The launch of the probe was widely seen as a so-called tit-for-tat move by China. It came just months after the EU began a similar investigation about potential dumping into Chinese electric vehicle makers.

China has denied a link between the two probes, Reuters reported last month citing an unnamed source from the French finance ministry.

Ahead of the meeting between Macron and Xi, the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac which represents the French cognac industry called for the leaders to come to an agreement about the issue.

Additional tariffs “would be extremely damaging for an entire region whose economy and agricultural activity are based on Cognac sales,” the body said. Over 95% of European brandy that is exported to China comes from the French Cognac and Armagnac regions, it added.

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