The Commerce Department on Friday set preliminary anti-dumping duty rates on products from China, Taiwan, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates it said were being sold in the United States at unfairly low prices.
The department said Chinese and Taiwanese companies were dumping certain optical brightening agents used in laundry detergent, paper and cosmetics.
It set preliminary duty rates of 106.22 to 141.08 percent on the Chinese products and 12.03 percent on the Taiwanese.
The ruling was a victory for North Carolina-based Clariant Corp, which asked for relief earlier this year.
Imports of the brightening agents totaled $38.9 million from China and $18.9 million from Taiwan last year.
The department also said companies in China and Mexico were dumping galvanized steel wire and companies in the United Arab Emirates were dumping steel nails.
It set preliminary duty rates of 76.34 to 235.00 percent on steel wire from China and 37.87 to 61.54 percent on steel wire from Mexico.
A group of U.S. wire companies from several states -- Davis Wire Corp, Johnstown Wire Technologies Inc, Mid-South Wire Company Inc, National Standard LLC and Oklahoma Steel & Wire Company Inc -- asked for duties.
The United States imported $53.9 million of the steel wire from China last year and $59.6 million from Mexico.
The department set preliminary duty rates of 19.23 to 61.54 percent on steel nails from the UAE.
Missouri-based Mid Continent Nail Corporation brought the case. Last year, the UAE exported more than $101.5 million of steel nails to the United States last year.
The Commerce Department will announce its final anti-dumping duty calculations in the three cases in March.
Until then, producers and exporters from the four countries will have to post bonds or cash deposits equal to the preliminary duty rates.
The U.S. International Trade Commission will have to give its approval for final duties to go into force. That vote is set for April.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; editing by Eric Beech)