The US Government has signaled how it will deal with business data theft by foreign companies in future. It intends to ‘hit them where it matters’; in the pockets of the very organisations who are profiting from corporate espionage.

In future, when Washington feels enough evidence exists that products from abroad were developed using secrets stolen from US companies, then those companies products will incur the highest import duties.

“The theft of trade secrets impacts national security, undermines our global competitiveness, diminishes U.S. export prospects and puts American jobs at risk,” said Victoria Espinel, U.S. intellectual-property enforcement coordinator.

With corporate espionage costing billions to the US economy annually, the Obama administration has to do something in response to the growing complaints about theft of corporate secrets by overseas agencies, especially China.

The White House has not explained what measures it intends to take against China, but the new strategy document is filled with examples of alleged Chinese theft of American intellectual property. It is therefore clear that at present the main bogeyman is perceived as emanating from Beijing. However, this new policy is ‘enemy neutral’ and could be applied to any product from anywhere in the world.

The US Government acknowledged that this is not an instant fix and it could take years before results become apparent. However they are confident that the policy will prove at least somewhat effective. This is because it mirrors a similar policy which they used in the 1980s to successfully slow the proliferation of advanced military technologies.

The Beijing Administration continues to deny that it condones or enables cyberhacking and insists that it too is a victim rather than a perpetrator.