Three days of U.S.-China trade talks ended in Beijing on Wednesday with a cautious sense of optimism  in the negotiations, including a commitment by China to buy more U.S. agricultural goods, energy, and manufactured items.

The talks had been extended from the originally planned two days to three full days.  “The extension of the talks indicates that both sides are serious about this consultation,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang.  “If the results of the talks are positive, it would be beneficial for both China and the U.S. and good news for the global economy.”

The two countries are trying to build on a trade war cease-fire that was agreed between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a dinner in Buenos Aires on December 1.  They agreed to refrain from adding any new tariffs for 90 days, a timetable that gives the negotiators until March 1 to reach a deal.

The talks were the first face-to-face meeting between the two sides since their leaders met on December 1.  Prior to the meeting, China made a number of concessions to U.S. demands including  temporarily cutting punitive tariffs on U.S.-made cars, promising to open up its markets for more foreign investment, and drafting a law to prevent forced technology transfers.

China also restarted purchases of U.S. soybeans last month, providing relief for a crop hit by Chinese retaliatory tariffs,  U.S. government data shows that China scooped up more than 2.6 million tons of soybeans in December and a least another 1.3 million were sold this year.  China aimed to buy at least 5 million tons of U.S. soybeans as part of the trade war truce.

Another indication that the talks had gone well was a Chinese announcement that it had finally approved the importation of five new varieties of genetically modified agricultural products.  The U.S. is the largest producer of genetically modified crops and seeds and American farmers have been waiting several years for a Chinese decision on the genetically modified crops.

In a statement, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the two sides considered ways to “achieve fairness, reciprocity, and balance in trade relations.”  Officials discussed the need for any deal to include “ongoing verification and effective enforcement.”  The United States will decide on the next steps after officials report back to Washington, USTR said.

Ted McKinney, undersecretary at USDA, said the talks had been “just fine.” The next step in the talks may come with a visit to Washington by Chinese vice premier Liu He, who is a close economic adviser to Xi.  Liu He made a brief appearance at the talks in Beijing, boosting optimism that China was serious about making progress on a deal.

President Trump and President Xi Jinping have given their officials until March 1 to reach an accord on “structural changes” to China’s economy on issues such as the forced transfer of American technology, intellectual-property rights, and non-tariff barriers.

The Trump administration has been holding out for verifiable assurances that China will stop hindering U.S. companies wanting to enter the Chinese market and will end the theft of intellectual property developed by American companies.

People familiar with the discussions said positions were closer on areas including energy and agriculture but further apart on more difficult issues.