Business

Business briefs

Tariffs might ease for state's apple exports

Gov. Chris Gregoire says Mexico is showing some interest in easing the heavy tariffs that have hampered imports of Washington-grown red and golden delicious apples.

The governor is leading a 50-member trade delegation to Mexico this week. She said in a telephone interview Thursday that high-ranking officials in Mexico City told her they'll look for ways to resolve a 12-year-old antidumping case that has resulted in tariffs of up to 47 percent on some of the state's apples.

She said Mexico already is Washington's top importer of galas and other varieties of apples. Gregoire said she's also hoping to open up Mexican markets to fresh potatoes.

Metals

Mining giant vies for aluminum company

SYDNEY, Australia - Mining giant Rio Tinto has offered to buy Canadian aluminum company Alcan Inc. for $38.1 billion in cash, the companies said Thursday, in a friendly takeover that tops a hostile bid by U.S.-based Alcoa.

The bid exceeds a $28 billion offer of cash and stock from Alcoa Inc. that Alcan's board rejected in May, and would create the world's largest aluminum company. Alcoa Inc. withdrew its offer on Thursday after being outbid.

Economy

Treasury reports June's $27.5 billion surplus

WASHINGTON - The federal deficit is running sharply lower through the first nine months of this budget year as the growth in revenue continues to outpace spending growth.

The Treasury Department reported Thursday that the government ran a surplus of $27.5 billion in June, up sharply from the $20.5 billion surplus recorded in June 2006. The government normally runs a surplus in June, a month when individual taxpayers and corporations make quarterly payments to the Internal Revenue Service.

With the June surplus, the total deficit through the first nine months of the budget year, which began Oct. 1, is $121 billion, down 41.4 percent from the same period a year ago, when the deficit totaled $206.5 billion.

Trade

Demand for crude oil, products from China high

WASHINGTON - The U.S. trade deficit rose to its second-highest level of the year as the price of imported crude oil jumped and demand for Chinese products remained strong despite recalls of tainted products.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the deficit for May rose to $60.04 billion, 2.3 percent more than in April. Most of the deterioration in the trade balance reflected a big increase in the foreign oil bill, which swamped record sales of U.S. products abroad.

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