Chile vs. Peru: what is the origin of pisco?

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Chile would forbid the import of Peruvian pisco under that name, forcing it to use the generic 'aguardiente'

Chile vs. Peru: what is the origin of pisco?

The trade war between Chile and Peru over the designation of origin of 'pisco' has a long history. However, on this occasion, the tension becomes more visible due to an increase in individual initiatives to cover the market, which has minimized the probability of an agreement between both States in the short term.

Leer en español: Chile vs. Perú: ¿cuál es el origen del pisco?

The commercial conflict goes back to the first productions of the alcoholic drink officially associated to the denomination of 'pisco' in Chile between 1882 and 1931, linking the production of the product to the town of Pisco Elqui (formerly called La Unión and presumably it changed its name to favor the denomination of origin). However, the name 'pisco' comes from the Quechua word 'pisqu' associated to the Valle del Inca region in Peru, so the origin of the Peruvian product dates back to pre-Columbian times, even if the denomination was not officialized until 30 years after Chile did it.

The controversy regarding the denomination of origin has been going on for decades, although recently the situation has been exacerbated. On March 26, the Peruvian government launched the brand Pisco, Spirit of Peru, which has as its main goal to position the beverage in international markets. The Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Édgar Vásquez said that "the goal is to position pisco as a unique and versatile drink in the world, taking into account that the Peruvian appellation of origin of pisco is recognized by 71 countries."

According to Vásquez, the recognition of the designation of origin of pisco as Peruvian involves 71 countries that have contributed to exports reaching USD $ 6 million in 2018, with a projected scope of US $ 7 million for 2019.

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Countries like Colombia, Thailand, Ukraine, and India recently recognized the designation of origin favoring Peru, adding to the list of 71 countries. Countries such as New Zealand and Australia make up the small list that recognizes pisco as a Chilean product of origin and exclusive to that country. However, due to the advancement of economic relations between Peru, New Zealand and Australia, one would think that this position could soon change. There are also those who have recognized both origins, among these Mexico, Canada and South Korea.

The fight extends to the courts

On April 2, Chilean parliamentarians presented a bill that proposes the prohibition of the entry of pisco of Peruvian origin into the country; to enter the Chilean market, it would have to be called 'aguardiente'. This event occurred after the Government of Peru denied internationally sharing the classification of origin of pisco with Chileans and has launched the positioning brand.

Promoted by the Independent Democratic Union Party (UDI), it is clear that the project aims to "establish certain reciprocity with what is happening with the national pisco industry, specifically in Peru, according to a statement by a member of the party.

The Chilean deputy Juan Manuel Fuenzalida said that through the measure "we apply the same thing that they apply to us, that when you enter Peru they seize piscos of Chilean origin". In addition, Antonio Walker, Minister of Agriculture of Chile, also reinforced this point of view by stating that Chile will follow its own path, facing the economic consequences of the rejection of Peru against the offer to share the denomination of origin between the two Latin American countries.

According to a report by BBC Mundo, Chilean producers affirm that they have not received the necessary support from the government to be able to face and execute a defense of their product abroad. This is evidenced by the number of countries that have favored the denomination of origin of pisco in Peru and not in Chile.

In this order of ideas, despite the fact that Chile has decided to undertake a solitary path in the positioning of its own pisco and is trying to forbid the entry of the Peruvian product, it must be considered that it enters to position itself in a demanding competitive market, in which Peru has known how to manage its commercial strategy efficiently and has consolidated with the commercial support of a significant number of countries in the International System.

LatinAmerican Post | Alejandra Caballero

Translated from "Chile vs. Perú: ¿cuál es el origen del pisco?"

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