UK will have trade deals in place before transition period ends, says minister

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The UK's international trade secretary has expressed confidence that key free trade deals will be in place by the time the Brexit transition period is over.

The UK can expect to have new trade deals in place with key partners before it transitions away from the European Union bloc, according to a minister.

Britain's international trade secretary Dr Liam Fox has expressed confidence during the Conservative Party's annual conference in Manchester that draft treaties will be on the table before the expected two-year transitional period runs out in March 2021.

Prime minister Theresa May confirmed last month that the UK will remain part of the EU single market and customs union for up to two years after it exits the EU in March 2019, in order to give the country more time to put the necessary trade deals in place.

Dr Fox said: "We'll expect to have draft agreements long before that with a number of countries. We want the EU transitional ones done by 2019 and then at that point we want to see the US, Australia and New Zealand, which are the priority ones."

He added that he expects the UK will be able to replicate the 40 EU free trade agreements that currently exist, and that it will be possible to do so with minimal disruption to trading conditions for businesses.