Are some cultures more honest than others?
Every culture has those who are honest and those who are not.
I am not sure the context of the comments by the engineers, but perhaps it has to with technology transfer. In some cases, the US has given away a lot of technology, and others have taken it and improved upon it. That however is not necessarily up to the engineers, but rather managers.
Sometimes, the motive is strictly monetary. A company gets into a market overseas by sharing technology. However, the short terms gains may be a pyrrhic victory - in the long term, the overseas company which receives the technology will replace the US company in the overseas market, and then perhaps compete in the global market.
As for the domestic US market, companies always try to learn each others technology, and in the extreme cases, industrial espionage does occur. Also, companies try to hire the best engineers from competitors.