Since the 1980s, Trump advocated tariffs to reduce the U.S. trade deficit and promote domestic manufacturing, saying the country was being "ripped off" by its trading partners; imposing tariffs became a major plank of his presidential campaign. Although some economists and politicians argue that the United States' persistent trade deficit is problematic, many economists argue that it is not a problem, and few advocate tariffs as a solution.
In the United States, the trade war has brought struggles for farmers and manufacturers and higher prices for consumers. In other countries it has also caused economic damage, though some countries have benefited from increased manufacturing to fill the gaps. It has also led to stock market instability. The governments of several countries, including China and the United States, have taken steps to address some of the damage caused by a deterioration in China–United States relations and tit-for-tat tariffs.
The trade war has been criticized internationally, including U.S. businesses and agricultural organizations, though most farmers continued to support Trump's tariffs. Among U.S. politicians the response has been mixed, and most agree that pressure needs to be put on China. As of late November 2019, none of the leading Democratic candidates for president said they would remove the tariffs, including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom agreed the U.S. had to confront China's unfair trade policies. While Senator Bernie Sanders had said months earlier that he would use the tariffs as a negotiating tool.