U.S. Says Nafta Talks Will Begin Aug. 16 in Washington

By William MauldinFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

The Trump administration said Wednesday that talks with Mexico and Canada on an overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement will begin next month, as it also announced a chief negotiator for the proceedings.

The administration said the first round of Nafta talks will be held in Washington and run Aug. 16-20.

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The announcement comes two days after the administration of President Donald Trump unveiled its objectives for the Nafta talks. Under the current "fast track" law, negotiating objectives must be published at least 30 days before talks with trading partners can begin.

The administration's objectives were generally welcomed by key Republicans, but congressional Democrats criticized the goals as vague. Some Democrats had applauded Mr. Trump's trade pledges on the campaign trail, in which he promised to change the direction of U.S. trade policy in ways that help American manufacturing workers.

U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer said Wednesday that an official in his agency, John Melle, will serve as chief negotiator in the Nafta talks. Mr. Melle, who oversees the agency's Western Hemisphere functions, will oversee day-to-day negotiations at the staff level, Mr. Lighthizer's office said in a statement.

Write to William Mauldin at william.mauldin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 19, 2017 12:34 ET (16:34 GMT)