Cognac, Roquefort & Vegemite, 10 October 2018

On Wednesday 10th October, ABIE, in partnership with ABIE Corporate Sponsor Corrs Chambers Westgarth, hosted an event titled “Cognac, Vegemite and Roquefort” focused on the potential intellectual property implications of an Australian-EU Free Trade Agreement.

Jennifer Mackinlay, Senior Trade & Investment Commissioner at Austrade, commenced proceedings with a warm welcome on behalf of ABIE to guests and thanked Ambassador Berne for generously welcoming ABIE members into the Residence for the occasion.  In his opening remarks, Australian Ambassador Brendan Berne, Honorary President of ABIE France, reflected on the current strength of the Australia France Relationship, highlighting French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent visit to Australia and several French Ministerial visits in coming months.

ABIE Board member Diana Bowman, Legal Manager at VINCI Energies, moderated a lively panel discussion centered around the wine, spirits and food trade between France, Australia and the rest of the world.

Stephen Stern, Partner at Corrs Chambers Westgarth and specialist in intellectual property law, who was awarded a Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole by the French government in recognition of his services to the French wine industry, treated guests to a highly informative insider view on the legal workings of the wine industry.

Lionel Lalagüe, Director Public & International Affairs, Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac, gave an interesting insight into the ”appellations” system in the wine and spirits sector and shared amusing anecdotes with the audience about his experiences.  He also provided tasting notes for the bottles of cognac he generously brought for guests to taste.

David Lebovitz, well-known Cookbook author, tied the event together with his extensive knowledge of French regional specialties and allowed guests a peek into his next book, with the mention of a cognac-based cocktail.

The panel discussion stimulated many questions from the audience before Ambassador Berne concluded proceedings, drawing on his background as a trade economist to highlight some of the issues with the EU’s approach to intellectual property and opportunities for Australia in the FTA negotiations.

Exchanges continued over a wine tasting by Gaetan Turner, President of South World Wines, in which guests had the opportunity to taste some excellent Australian wines, complemented by an extensive cheese selection and an exceptional cognac.  Guests took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to enjoy the lovely terrace overlooking the Eiffel tower.  Much networking was done and a good time had by all.  ABIE thanks Corrs Chambers Westgrath, South World Wines and most importantly, the Australian Embassy for hosting the event.