The US Commerce Department has set preliminary dumping rates on imported steel wire rod from China, signaling that it may impose punitive duties on the products.

The department made its preliminary affirmative determination that carbon and certain alloy steel wire rod from China has been sold in the United States at dumping margins ranging from 106.19% to 110.25%.

Punitive duties would be imposed after both the Commerce Department and the US International Trade Commission (ITC) made affirmative final rulings, which are scheduled in November and December, respectively. If the ITC makes a negative determination, the investigations will be terminated.

The investigations are in response to a petition filed by ArcelorMittal USA based in the state of Illinois and five other US companies, which alleged that these products from China were sold below the fair value of the products in the US market, while Chinese producers and exporters also received improper government subsidies.

Imports of these products from China were estimated at US$313 million last year, according to US official data.

China's Ministry of Commerce has repeatedly urged the United States to abide by its commitment against protectionism and work with China to maintain a free, open and just trade environment.