The first round of new talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement will be held in August in Washington.
The US, Canada and Mexico will hold negotiations from 16 August to 20 August, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s office said Wednesday. Talks couldn’t begin before then because the Trump administration is consulting Congress for 90 days.
Representatives of the three countries met in Washington Tuesday to discuss the next steps, with Canadian and Mexican trade officials slated to meet again Wednesday in Ottawa, an official familiar with plans said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussions are private.
Lighthizer also announced that John Melle, assistant US trade representative for the Western Hemisphere, will be chief negotiator. Canada’s chief trade negotiator, Steve Verheul, will reportedly lead talks for the northern nation, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government hasn’t confirmed that. Mexico’s efforts are being led by Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo.
President Donald Trump’s administration announced its list of negotiating objectives for Nafta talks Monday, days after Vice President Mike Pence said the US is looking for a “win-win-win” solution.
Canadian lawmakers have said they’re confident the deal can be updated and improved, and Mexico has called for talks to finish by the end of this year, ahead of a presidential election in mid-2018.