U.S.-China Trade War Timeline: Mapping Industry Impact

The trade war between the United States and China has been a topic of contention throughout 2018 and into 2019. Proposed tariffs have touched almost every industry, shaking up consensus and sparking new conversations on the future of international trade relations.

On Wall Street, conversations ebb and flow with each passing policy update. But AlphaSense trends revealed a more in-depth look at how conversations unfold across different industries, painting a more complete picture of how often different sectors discussed the trade war, and when.


Let’s take a closer look:

A thematic search in AlphaSense of the keyword trade war across all industries, over the last two years, pinpoints exactly when the phrase trade war started to be used more heavily across the board. The first initial “spike” kicking off the trend appears the last week of February into early March 2018. Adjusting the Timeframe to focus on that particular week (Feb 27 – March 5), and further sorting by Relevance Score pinpoints the trigger – Trump’s initial steel and aluminum tariff announcement, which hit headlines on March 1, 2018 and spilled over into research and analysis for weeks to come.

trade war


U.S.-China trade war trends by industry

The same method can identify when and how different industries discussed the trade war as new political events unfolded. Let’s look at the automotive industry, for example:


Instances of “trade war” surged during Summer 2018, when an additional 25 percent tariff on roughly $50 billion in Chinese exports was announced, and the first roll-out (tariffs on roughly $34 billion in goods), took effect. This resulted in retaliatory measures from China, which imposed additional tariffs of their own – notably, on automobiles.

For some contrast, let’s look at mentions of trade war in the tech and telecommunications industries:


Looking at the trends, it seems that the trade war has always been somewhat on tech and telecoms’ radar as the trade war started to unfold. But major activity didn’t occur until Fall ‘18, when concerns over exports and supply chain efficiency fell into the spotlight.


Making sense of trade war trends

It’s unclear how the trade war will continue to play out into 2019 as negotiation continue between the U.S. and China. But with each new change comes the potential for different industries to be affected in different ways.

Understanding different industry trends can help determine, and anticipate, where you should be focusing your attention, and when. As they say, there’s much to learn from the past – and the power of AI-augmented insights can help you make sense of the future.


AlphaSense is a market intelligence platform used by the world’s leading companies and financial institutions. Since 2011, our AI-based technology has helped professionals make smarter business decisions by delivering insights from an extensive universe of public and private content—including company filings, event transcripts, news, trade journals, expert calls, broker reports, and equity research. Our platform is trusted by over 2,000 enterprise customers, including a majority of the S&P 100. Headquartered in New York City, AlphaSense employs over 1,000 people across offices in the U.S., U.K., Finland, Germany, and India.

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