Negotiators from 16 nations accounting for half the world's population inched closer to drafting a multilateral trade treaty after five days of negotiations that went late into Friday evening.

But disagreements over issues ranging from how to handle intellectual property rights to tariff reductions continue to divide developed and lesser-developed members, raising questions about whether an ambitious agreement for the Asia-Pacific region that excludes the United States but includes China and India can be reached by the end of the year.

The Kobe round of negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the first since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, was to have set the tone for further negotiations this year and culminate in an agreement by the end of the year.