Less than a week after the White House described trade talks in Beijing as "candid and constructive",
American and Chinese negotiators met again on April 3rd in Washington, DC.
There is talk of a summit between the two countries' presidents. But amid the upbeat noises are a few discordant notes.
Without a deadline, the discussions could drag on, or even stall.
Although the contours of a deal seem clear, the final items are always the trickiest. And even if a deal is struck, it may not be a good one.
The two sides have already agreed on provisions relating to currency manipulation,
and are hashing out how much more American goods the Chinese will commit to buying.
Rules on technology transfer and American companies' access to the Chinese market are still being discussed.
Also on the table will be American demands that China relaxes its attitude to trade in data, which it sees as a threat to national security.
Some in the Trump administration see the negotiations as an opportunity to demand reforms that would also benefit China,
such as a more stringent intellectual-property regime or trimmed subsidies.
The main objective of the Chinese delegation, led by Liu He, a vice-premier, is simpler:
the lifting of the tariffs imposed since last July, which currently cover just over 44% of Chinese exports to America, or goods worth $250bn in 2017.
According to Myron Brilliant of the US Chamber of Commerce, a lobby group, the talks starting on April 3rd focused on two of the thorniest topics.
The first was which, if any, of the tariffs will be dropped upon reaching a deal.
The Trump administration sees tariffs as leverage, useful to make sure that the Chinese stick to what is agreed.
The second related to enforcement. The Americans want to be able to decide unilaterally
if China has broken the terms of any deal and punish it with fresh tariffs, without risking retaliation.
But that would be humiliating for the Chinese.