EU may leave Armenia without cognac
The 'cognac problem' appeared during the negotiations between Armenia and the EU on the conclusion of the Framework Agreement on Cooperation: the EU insists that Armenia must renounce the use of the brand 'cognac'.
"The cognac problem is one of the most painful topics on which we will decide during the negotiations with the Armenian side. The EU has quite a tough position on this issue," Sputnik Armenia cited the EU Ambassador to Armenia Peter Switalski as saying.
The fact is that under the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of names, places of origin and their international registration, the 'cognac' and 'champagne' are not just brands, but also geographical indications (in France), which, in order to avoid any confusion cannot be used by other manufacturers in the Member States of the agreement. Russia, which exported the bulk of the brandy produced in Armenia, does not participate in this agreement.
The solution to the problem was set out in the association agreement, according to which the Armenian side was given 14 years, after which it was necessary to take a final decision. However, the new negotiations started, because Armenia does not sign an association agreement with the EU. And it seems that some of the conditions have changed.
'Cognac is one of the most famous Armenian brands in the CIS market. That is, the change of the brand's name may lead to image and economic losses for local producers.
"If I am not mistaken, a transitional period of 14 years has been defined within the framework of the Association Agreement Agreement on deep and comprehensive free trade area (DCFTA) to address this issue. That is, we can use the brand name 'cognac' everywhere for this period of time, except in the member states of the Lisbon treaty, and only after that we were supposed to take the final decision," the former Minister of Economy Karen Chshmaritian said.
The chairman of the Union of Armenian Winemakers Avag Harutyunyan said, in his turn, that sooner or later Armenia should abandon the brand and the sooner it happens, the better for the industry.
"Currently, the biggest part of Armenian brandy is exported to Russia, which has not joined the Lisbon Agreement yet. That is, our exports under the brand name 'cognac' will continue as long as Russia doesn't ratify the agreement. In other words, everything depends on the Russian-French relations, not us," Harutyunyan concluded.
Currently, the Armenian cognac has become uncompetitive in the market due to economic difficulties in Russia and devaluation of the ruble . Sales decreased by up to 50% last year.
"The question is, what other name we should chose, because it has to be memorable, short and sonorous. And we shouldn't export our cognac as 'brandy, because it is considered as cheaper variety of alcoholic beverage," Harutyunyan added.