The U.S. Commerce Department on Monday set preliminary dumping margins on electrical steel products from seven foreign countries, signaling that it may impose punitive duties on the products. The department made its preliminary affirmative determination that imports of grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) from Czech, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Poland and China, had been sold below the fair value of the products in the U.S. market with dumping margins of 5.34 percent to 241.91 percent. GOES is primarily used in the production of laminated cores for large and medium-sized electrical power transformers and distribution transformers, the department said in a statement. Punitive duties would be imposed after both the Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) make affirmative final rulings. If the ITC makes a negative determination, the investigations will be terminated. The Commerce Department and the ITC are scheduled to announce its final determinations concerning China on Sept. 15 and Oct. 29, respectively. The department launched the investigations last October, in response to request from two steel producers in the United States, AK Steel Corporation based in the state of Ohio and Allegheny Ludlum based in the state of Pennsylvania, and the United Steelworkers, an industrial labor union of steelworkers based in Pittsburgh, a city in Pennsylvania. Imports of GOES from China were estimated at 5.4 million U.S. dollars last year, while the imports of the products from Japan were estimated at 41.1 million dollars, according to the Commerce Department. The move is the latest in a string of trade measures targeting imports of other countries, arousing concerns that protectionism is again on the rise in the United States. Beijing has repeatedly urged Washington to abide by its commitment against protectionism and work with China and other countries to maintain a free, open and just trade environment.