HOUSTON (March 7)—Rubber demand in North America will grow about 1.6 percent in 2003 and at that pace through 2007, according to a new report. Synthetic rubber consumption will rise 1.5 percent in North America his year and average about 1.6 percent annually through 2007, according to the International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers. SR use in North America was flat in 2002 at 2.22 million metric tons. Most automotive and tire elastomers should show moderate growth through 2007, the report said. The institute expects natural rubber demand to increase at an annual rate of 1.6 percent in the five-year period, following 4.9-percent growth last year.