The European Union may renew tariffs on Chinese wire rod for another five years to curb competition for EU producers.

The EU began a probe into whether to re-impose the duties as high as 24 percent on imports from China of wire rod, which is used in construction. The levies punish Chinese exporters for allegedly having sold wire rod in Europe below cost.

The inquiry will determine “the likelihood of a continuation or recurrence of dumping and injury” to the EU industry, the European Commission, the 28-nation bloc’s trade authority in Brussels, said today in the Official Journal. The anti-dumping duties were due to lapse next week and will now stay in place during the investigation, which can last as long as 15 months.

When introducing the trade protection in 2009, the EU said European producers of wire rod included ArcelorMittal (MT), Corus Group Ltd. and Feralpi Siderurgica SpA. China increased its share of the EU wire-rod market to 5 percent in the 12 months through March 2008 from 0.3 percent in 2004, the bloc said at the time.

The probe into whether to renew the levies stems from an April 29 request by European steel industry group Eurofer on behalf of producers that account for more than a quarter of EU output of wire rod, the commission said today. It didn’t identify any producers.