Once the UK leaves the EU at 11pm on the 23rd March 2019 the government can begin trade negotiations and start signing free trade deals around the world. But these deals cannot be implemented until the 21-month transition phase has ended on the 31st December 2020.

To ready the country for this the Department for International Trade (DIT) has started to lay the foundations, reports the Sun saying that: "Britain will have at least two bumper new free trade deals signed and ready to implement on the day the transition period ends, according to internal government forecasts".

The 'paper quotes a source familiar with the internal working of the DIT as saying they expect a minimum of two deals to be ready by the end of 2020 and that the easiest to sort out would be with Australia and New Zealand. But other deals with the likes of Japan and the USA would take longer.

But the one fly in the ointment over a deal with Australia is that the UK could be presented with a demand to allow hormone treated beef to be taken in any such agreement. This is currently banned by EU law, as is the import of chlorinated chicken, with the Environment secretary, Michael Gove, saying that animal welfare standards will not be lowered after Brexit. So one can see the potential for a split to appear between the priorities to get trade deals and the pledge to maintain animal welfare standards.

The Sun quotes a DIT spokesperson saying that its priority is to secure UK international trade continuity during the Brexit process and that the department was working with other countries to develop the UK into a global leader in free trade, but that the high UK animal welfare standards would be maintained.

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