Liam Fox calls for the UK to be positive about its trading prospects

Helen Cahill
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Conservative Party Conference 2017- Day One
Liam Fox arrives at the Conservative conference (Source: Getty)

Trade secretary Liam Fox today called for the UK to be positive about its trading prospects when the country leaves the EU.

Addressing delegates at the Conservative party conference in Manchester this afternoon, Fox said he had met with a string of world leaders who were keen to do business with the UK.

"We need to take as positive a view of Britain as they do," he said.

Read more: Bank of England warns EU banks not 'sufficiently focused' on Brexit risks

Earlier this week he pledged to have a raft of deals agreed in principle, ready to be signed when the two-year transitional trading period with the EU ends in March 2021. He said his department was prioritising deals with the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

However, Fox acknowledged this afternoon that trade deals and globalisation might disadvantage some communities, and that the government had a role in communicating the benefits of free trade.

"Let's make our arguments mean something to all our people," he said.

Paying tribute to the work of civil servants in Whitehall, the trade secretary laid out the priorities of his department as it prepares the UK for Brexit.

Read more: David Davis says the UK is ready "for any outcome" from EU talks

Fox said his first priority was to submit new tariff schedules to the World Trade Organisation, and he would then focus on translating into UK law the current trading relationships that EU has with other countries. Finally, the UK would have to ensure it had its new trading agreements in place with the US and other countries.

“We are united with the government in wanting the negotiations to move on to discussing trade, but many questions remain about what will take the place of our current membership of the Single Market and customs union," said Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors.

"From rolling over current EU trade deals with third countries, to creating new mechanisms for regulatory cooperation with Europe, businesses want to know now how they can safeguard against the potential for disruption to their existing cross-border relationships."

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