Any trade deal with the United States will not allow reductions in our standards, Liam Fox has insisted.

The International Trade Secretary was speaking after US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross urged the UK to reject the European Union’s “protectionist” policies.

Mr Ross identified compliance with EU food standards preventing the import of GM crops and chlorine-washed chicken as a potential stumbling block in future transatlantic trade talks if the UK continued to align itself with Brussels’ rules after Brexit.

Dr Fox suggested that British consumers would play a key role in deciding what products would be allowed under any UK-US deal.

“We will look and see what we think is in the UK’s interest,” he said.

“We have made very clear that we are not going to see reductions in our standards as we move forwards, partly because British consumers wouldn’t stand for it.

“We are entering an era where I think consumers will take a much bigger interest in trade agreements than they might have done in the past.

“I think on things like environmental standards and quality and safety they will clearly have very strong views.”

Dr Fox also insisted his department was training up staff to be able to negotiate deals after Brexit, with more than 400 people in the trade policy group.

“We have brought in Crawford Falconer from New Zealand and he is creating that professional cadre to help us do that,” Dr Fox said.

As well as Mr Falconer’s role as chief trade negotiation adviser, much of the work on future deals would draw on sector specialists from across Whitehall.

“We have got a huge amount of capability there and we have some UK people who have been working in Brussels as part of the European arm of that, that we can bring back to the UK,” Dr Fox said.

Dr Fox’s department is publishing the Trade Bill, which includes provisions for the UK to implement existing EU trade deals.

It will also help ensure that UK companies can continue to access £1.3 trillion worth of major government contracts in other countries and set up a new trade remedies body to defend UK businesses against injurious trade practices.

He said: “What we intend to do is a process that is technically called transitional adoption.

“For countries like South Korea ... we will want to get continuity of that agreement that they have with the EU but on the basis that over time we will create a more bespoke arrangement.”

Replicating the EU’s existing agreements was “not quite cut and paste” but it was a “technical issue” to provide continuity, he said.

Further tax-related elements of the UK’s trade policy will be contained in the Treasury’s forthcoming customs legislation - the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill - as part of the creation of a new UK tariff regime.