Nucor once thwarted a Chinese attempt to steal its technology

A major American steel producer is accusing China of intellectual property theft.

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John Ferriola, chief executive of Nucor Corporation, said they have it on good authority that China attempted to steal their technology.

“Several years ago, we did have an attempt to break into our computer systems which working with the government they were able to track it back to a Chinese source,” he told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on Wednesday.

Ferriola said the company’s firewalls prevented China from gaining access to Nucor’s information. The Trump administration has been pushing for structural changes in China’s intellectual property and technology transfers during the ongoing trade negotiations.

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In April, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo that IP theft is a challenge and it is the reason why trade negotiations are taking so long.

“The work that’s being done is about this enforcement mechanism,” he said on "Mornings with Maria.” “What is it you do if they don’t live up to their word?”

President Trump has been using tariffs as leverage in order to get China to engage in a reciprocal trade agreement with the U.S.

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Ferriola, who supports the president's tariffs on foreign steel, credits much of Nucor’s 2018 success not just to the tariffs, but to Trump’s tax and regulatory reforms as well.

“We had a record year through the efforts our teammates working safe, working hard, working smart and the tariffs did provide a tailwind to that,” he said.

Ferriola added Nucor is expected to continue to do well regardless of the tariffs imposed on foreign steel.