Britain stands on the verge of an unprecedented ability to liberate global trade for the benefit of the whole planet, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said Thursday.
Addressing an audience in Manchester, Fox was talking about free trade in a world which has seen Britain vote to leave the European Union.
Fox was put in charge of the newly created department by Theresa May who replaced David Cameron as prime minister.
Commentators said Fox's keynote speech was a clear indicator that the government favored a hard Brexit in its plans to leave the EU.
"It is potentially the beginning of what I might call 'post geography trading world' where we are much less restricted in having to find partners who are physically close to us," said Fox.
"It is an exhilarating, empowering and liberating time yet this bright future is being darkened by the shadows of protectionism and retrenchment. History teaches us that such trends do not bode well for the future," he said.
"Its modern-day critics would do well to evaluate the devastating failures of alternative economic models throughout history and to compare them with the recent success gained by countries such as China, India, or Vietnam. Free trade has, and will continue to, transform the world for the better," the official added.
Britain's trade with the world is equivalent to over half the country's national income, but Fox added that where progress has stalled at the multilateral level, Britain must be ready to look to more bespoke plurilateral and bilateral arrangements to ensure that the global marketplace remains fair and free.
"As a newly independent WTO member outside the EU, we will continue to fight for trade liberalization as well as potentially helping developing markets trade their way out of poverty by giving them preferential access to our markets," he said.
"As we establish our independent position post-Brexit, we will carry the standard of free and open trade as a badge of honor," he said. "I believe the UK is in a prime position to become a world leader in free trade because of the brave and historic decision of the British people to leave the European Union."