Britain opened "very fruitful" trade talks with Canada on Friday, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told the Sunday Times newspaper as he prepares to renegotiate Britain's commercial ties following its vote last month to leave the European Union.
In limited extracts of his interview, Fox said he would soon travel to the United States to ensure that Britain was not at the back of the queue in trade talks as President Barack Obama had suggested before the June 23 vote.
He said was "scoping" about a dozen free trade deals outside the EU to be ready for when Britain leaves, some with countries that had indicated they wanted a quick deal and others with some of the world's major economies.
"We can make Britain a beacon for open trade," he told the paper. "We have already had a number of countries saying 'we'd love to do a trade deal with the world's fifth-biggest economy without having to deal with the other 27 members of the EU.'"
Earlier, Prime Minister Theresa May's office said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had told her he would like to strike a free trade deal with Britain as soon as possible.
The European Commission negotiates trade deals on behalf of its member states, meaning Britain has not had to forge its own deals since it joined the bloc in 1973.