October 1, 2017 / 6:15 PM / 10 months ago

UK sees draft free trade deals before transition phase ends: minister

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Britain expects to have draft free trade agreements on the table long before it reaches the end of a Brexit transitional period which is expected to run for around two years after 2019, trade minister Liam Fox said on Sunday.

Liam Fox, Britain's Secretary of State for International Trade, arrives at 10 Downing Street, in London September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

At the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester, northern England, Fox said he was confident that Britain would be able to strike trade deals quickly with Britain’s allies such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

He criticized the media for talking Britain down in the complicated negotiations with the European Union to unravel more than 40 years of union. Instead, he said, Britain would become a much more agile trading country after Brexit.

Asked whether there would be draft treaties on the table before the expected two year transitional period runs out in March 2021, 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 United States, Australia and New Zealand which are the priority ones.”

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Writing by Kate Holton; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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