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U.S. announces probe into imports of steel wire rod

(Adds background on probe)

WASHINGTON, April 18 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Commerce said on Tuesday it was launching investigations into whether imports of carbon and alloy steel wire rod from certain countries are being dumped and/or subsidized.

The probe affects imports from Belarus, Italy, South Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates and Britain; the subsidization probe covers those from Italy and Turkey, the Commerce Department said in a statement.

The action follows petitions from Gerdau Ameristeel US Inc, a subsidiary of Gerdau SA, Nucor Corp, Keystone Consolidated Industries and Charter Steel, it said.

Wire rod is a hot-rolled intermediate steel product used in a wide variety of other intermediate and end-use products.

In 2016, the estimated imports of carbon and alloy steel wire rod were valued at an estimated $10.4 million from Belarus; $12.2 million from Italy; $45.6 million from Korea; $32.3 million from Russia; $7.1 million from South Africa; $40.7 million from Spain; $41.4 million from Turkey; $55 million from Ukraine; $7 million from the United Arab Emirates; and $20.5 million from the United Kingdom, the statement said.

If the U.S. International Trade Commission makes a preliminary finding by a May 12 deadline that the imports cause damage to U.S. producers, the investigations will continue, the Commerce Department said.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Writing by Eric Walsh; Editing by Leslie Adler)