WASHINGTON — The U.S. International Trade Commission on May 9 made a preliminary determination of injury and will proceed with antidumping and countervailing duty investigations of U.S. imports of sugar from Mexico. The preliminary determination follows a decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce to initiate the case on April 18. U.S. sugar producers petitioned the I.T.C. and the D.O.C. on March 28 claiming subsidized Mexican sugar was being dumped in the U.S. market at a cost of about $1 billion to U.S. sugar producers in the current marketing year.

“Given the low threshold for determining injury in the U.S. I.T.C.’s preliminary determination, we are not surprised by today’s ruling,” the Sweetener Users Association said following the May 9 decision. “The vote simply allows the investigation to continue. However, while U.S. sugar producers had the right to file the petition under U.S. law and the U.S. I.T.C. has at this early stage made a preliminary determination of injury, it should not be assumed that the case has merit. To the contrary, we expect that the U.S. sugar producers will lose when the U.S. I.T.C. is able to complete the full investigation.”

The I.T.C. vote was 5 to 0 with one commissioner not participating.

“The I.T.C. made the right decision today and validated our complaints,” said Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, which represents U.S. sugar producers. “Mexico’s actions have harmed hardworking sugar producers as well as taxpayers. U.S. trade laws are designed to stop such injury, and we hope corrective actions will be taken soon before the situation deteriorates. It is clear that the U.S. government recognizes that there is a problem, and we believe the independent government process should proceed expeditiously without interruption.”

The next steps in the case will be for the D.O.C. to make preliminary determinations on the countervailing duty portion by June 23 and on the antidumping portion by Sept. 4. Preliminary duties could be placed on sugar imports from Mexico depending on the outcome of the D.O.C.’s ruling this summer. Final rulings by both agencies may not occur until early 2015.