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Another trade issue has surfaced in the US, solar panel manfacturers asking for tariffs applied to Chinese imports.

The strange thing is, while US companies complain that Chinese companies are able to sell cheap because of government subsidies, the US companies are also receiving subsidies.

“The methodology of this is not political,” said Frank L. Lavin, a longtime Republican who has held a series of appointments in Republican administrations, including overseeing the antidumping and antisubsidy investigations office when he was the undersecretary of commerce for international trade during President George W. Bush’s second term.

But like many Republicans, Mr. Lavin was critical of the Obama administration for having provided a half-billion dollars in federal credit guarantees to Solyndra, now bankrupt, a California company with an alternative solar energy technaology.

The US government should realize–some day–that imports that are cheap, whether subsidized or not, provide a net gain in welfare to Americans. That is the foundation of free trade theory.

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