Beijing has offered to lower tariffs and other restrictions on American farm, chemical, auto and other products and Washington considering removing most, if not all, sanctions levied against Chinese products since last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Apparently, hurdles still remain, and each side faces possible resistance at home that the terms are too favorable to the other side.
The talks have however progressed to the extent that a formal agreement could be reached at a summit between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, probably around March 27, after Xi finishes a trip to Italy and France, individuals with knowledge of the plans told the Journal.
Among issues that may be resolved include, speeding up the timetable for removing foreign-ownership limitations on car ventures and reducing tariffs on imported vehicles to below the current auto tariff of 15 percent, according to the Journal.
Beijing would also step up purchases of U.S. goods—a tactic designed to appeal to President Trump, who campaigned on closing the bilateral trade deficit with China.
Also mentioned would be an $18 billion natural-gas purchase from Cheniere Energy, people familiar with the transaction said.
The two sides continue to negotiate over issues involving Chinese industrial policy the U.S. argues gives Chinese domestic firms an advantage, especially state-owned enterprises.
Last week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the provisions involving protecting intellectual property total nearly 30 pages out of a working document of more than 100 pages.
Others involved in the talks said the U.S. is pressing Beijing to agree not to retaliate—at least in some cases—if the U.S. levies sanctions.
That would be a big concession for Beijing negotiators, who say they want to make sure the deal doesn’t turn out to be an unequal treaty for China of the sort imposed by Western powers in the 19th century.