U.S. Loses Appeal on Lumber Tariffs

The United States lost an appeal to maintain punitive duties on Canadian lumber, a development that may spur the return of $4.13 billion of tariffs to companies such as Canfor and Tembec. All three members of an arbitration panel formed under the North American Free Trade Agreement rejected U.S. legal challenges, according to the judgment's text.

The United States was appealing a ruling that rebuffed its complaints that subsidies allow Canadian companies to export lumber at depressed prices.

"We fully expect the United States to abide by this ruling, stop collecting duties and refund the duties collected over the past three years," Canadian Trade Minister Jim Peterson. Canadian negotiators will resume talks on a lumber trade agreement with the United States later this month, he said.

Separately, the NAFTA arbitration panel rejected a claim by Methanex, the world's largest supplier of methanol, seeking $970 million from the United States related to California's 1999 ban of a gasoline additive made from methanol. Vancouver-based Methanex had argued that California discriminated against it when it outlawed the additive, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).


Central Bank Cuts British Growth Forecast

The Bank of England lowered its forecast for economic growth in Britain this year and predicted a rise in inflation because of higher oil prices. Governor Mervyn A. King, right, said the central bank was cutting its 2005 growth forecast to around 2 percent from 2.5 percent but saw it rising above 3 percent in 2007 -- a level that may reduce the chances of another interest rate cut.

King said the bank expected inflation to move above the government's 2 percent target in the near term, then ease before once again rising at the end of the two-year forecast period.

Mittal Steel, the world's largest steel producer, reported a 15 percent drop in second-quarter profit, to $1.09 billion from $1.28 billion in the comparable quarter a year earlier, and lowered its outlook for the third quarter. Revenue rose 36 percent, to $7.6 billion.

The Dutch company, which acquired U.S.-based International Steel Group in April, attributed the lower profit to rising prices for raw materials and energy.

Bayer nearly tripled its second-quarter profit, to $502.1 million, on strong sales in its health care and chemical businesses. The German drugmaker said revenue rose 20 percent, to $8.72 billion, helped by a 31 percent gain in sales in Europe.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.