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The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Tuesday it will extend by another six months its probe into whether “safeguard” import tariffs should be imposed on towels from China, citing a sharp increase in imports.

METI said it will extend the probe through April 15, with the current probe set to expire Oct. 15.

The decision marks the fifth such extension since the probe was originally launched on April 16, 2001.

The ministry launched the probe at the behest of a towel industry association.

According to METI, towel imports from China in the 12 months to August grew 10.4 percent, marking the first double-digit growth in a one-year survey since the probe started.

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