By Ross Kohan
October 10, 2016

Trade agreements are critical to companies like Nucor. With revenues of more than $16 billion, it is the largest steel company in the United States. But CEO John Ferriola tells Fortune’s Susie Gharib that when he talks about the importance of “free trade,” he means “fair trade” with no “government interference.”

Ferriola says China doesn’t abide by those rules. That’s why he fought hard to get American regulators to impose anti-dumping measures on steel imports from countries like China, which he alleges are subsidized by its government. Ever since the U.S. imposed tariffs this past summer on cheap imports, Nucor has been benefitting from stronger sales and profits. “It’s been a positive for our industry and our company,” says Ferriola.

Despite his tough stance on trade with China, Ferriola says he doesn’t agree with the protectionist talk from presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. “I am not a believer in protectionism,” Ferriola says emphatically. “And I want to be clear that enforcing our trade laws is not protectionism.” He adds that globalization is important for economic growth all around the globe. “Absolutely, there should be a global market. Absolutely, companies and countries should compete on a global basis,” he says. “That’s the best way to get truly robust economic growth worldwide. That’s what free trade is all about—what capitalism is all about.”


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