The U.S. Department of Commerce on Wednesday announced its preliminary affirmative determination in the countervailing duty investigation against imports of monosodium glutamate from China, signaling that it may pose punitive duties on the products. The department alleged that Chinese producers and exporters of monosodium glutamate had received countervailing subsidies from 13.41 percent to 404.03 percent. The department launched anti-dumping duty and countervailing duty investigations against imports of monosodium glutamate from China on Oct. 24, 2013, at the request of Ajinomoto North America. The Illinois-based company claimed that monosodium glutamate from China was sold at less than fair value in the U.S. market, with a dumping margin ranging from 64.77 percent to 204.69 percent and additional subsidies. The department is scheduled to make its final decisions in May 2014, unless the statutory deadline is extended. Punitive duties would be imposed after both the Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission make affirmative final rulings. The latter is scheduled to make its final determination in July 2014. In 2013, imports of monosodium glutamate from China were at an estimated 33.5 million U.S. dollars, according to the Department of Commerce. The Chinese Commerce Ministry has repeatedly urged the United States to honor its commitment against protectionism and work together with China and other members of the international community to maintain a free, open and just international trade environment.