The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) on Friday cleared the way for the government to continue anti-dumping investigations on imports of silica bricks and shapes from China. The USITC determined that there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially hurt by Chinese silica bricks and shapes that are allegedly sold in U.S. market with dumping margins from 118.47 percent to 290.12 percent. As a result, the U.S. Commerce Department will continue its anti-dumping probes that began on Dec. 6 on these products and is expected to make its preliminary decision in April 2013. Silica bricks and shapes are a type of refractory bricks used to line furnace roofs. In 2011, imports of silica bricks and shapes from China were at an estimated 43.2 million U.S. dollars, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. As the U.S. economy is undergoing a slow recovery, Washington has increasingly resorted to protectionism practices this year. As of Nov. 6, it has imposed anti-dumping or anti-subsidy duties on more than 120 products imported from 36 countries on the excuse of having materially harmed related U.S. industries. Chinese products including consumer goods, chemical, iron and steel products, farm produce and sea food are heavily targeted by such punitive duties. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has repeatedly urged Washington to abide by its commitment against protectionism and help maintain a free, open and just international trade environment.