Canadian Blue announces merger plan Montreal-base bottled water group Canadian Blue Gold has announced the finalization of an agreement for a merger with a group it claims is a leader in the North American water bottling and distribution industry. The company's management said in a statement that the merger partner was a well renowned player within the North American market for water distribution. The bottler added, however, that it had no further information to give on the deal at this stage. The move will allow the company to expand its presence further into the global bottled water market, with consumption expected to grow to 251bn litres in 2011 from 187bn litres in 2006.. Belvedere plots vodka domination Grupa Sobieski, the vodka-producing subsidiary of the France-based Belvedere group, hopes that new expansion plans for its flagship brand can significantly expand its market share in the segment. The subsidiary says that it intends to push the Vodka Sobieski brand into new markets such as Russia and Ukraine to boost sales. Group financial director Dariusz Jamiola claimed that its vodka label is already among the ten best selling international brands, and is one of the fastest developing in the group. "Our objective is to advance from the seventh position to the second, just behind Smirnoff," Jamiola stated. "To achieve this it will have to overtake Absolut, Nemiroff and Finlandia." Indian tariffs not persecuting US beverage groups India has been cleared of unfairly discriminating against US wine and Spirits groups through its import duties policy by the World Trade Organization (WTO), according to press reports. WTO officials speaking in Geneva said yesterday that recent amendments made by India's Central Board of Excise and Customs (CEBC) to its tariff system ensured that it was in line with their trade rules, according to the Dow Jones newswire service. Last July, the CEBC said it was to withdraw additional duties on foreign alcohol products, after lobbying from producers around the world. The board said that the additional duty imposed over the 150 per cent basic customs charge on spirit and liquors and 100 per cent on wines and beer would no longer be permitted, following consultation with the state governments. As a result of the amendments, the basic charge on wines and beers was lifted to 50 percentage points to 150 per cent in line with changes on the spirit sector.