Negotiators made headway on thorny issues in the U.S.-China trade dispute, including access to key markets and how to roll back punitive tariffs, as both sides prepare for talks they hope will clinch a deal. Chinese subsidies and other sticking points remain, however.

On a brief trip to Beijing this week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese negotiators explored ways to bridge the divide on several longstanding issues, according to people close to the talks. That list covers foreign access to China’s cloud-computing market and what portion of the tariffs both sides have levied on each other’s goods will remain in place, these people said.

Other issues, particularly Beijing’s support for domestic companies, remain unresolved, leaving negotiators confronting a full agenda for meetings in Washington next week that are expected in part to focus on a draft agreement in Chinese and English. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is leading more than 100 officials from over a dozen government agencies for the talks, in a sign Beijing thinks final details can be ironed out, these people said.

Getting a final deal, however, may mean accepting terms that are less sweeping than some on the U.S. side have sought. China hawks in the Trump administration, as well as some businesses, have urged President Donald Trump to stand firm for an agreement that would force Beijing to make fundamental changes to policies that have protected markets and domestic companies — and the Chinese side is resisting.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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2019-05-01