Details of the government’s post-Brexit trade policy will become clearer as it publishes proposed legislation.
Ministers say their Trade Bill includes provisions for the UK to implement existing EU trade agreements and help ensure firms can still access £1.3 tn worth of foreign government contracts.
It will also create a new trade remedies body to defend UK businesses against injurious trade practices.
The UK cannot sign or negotiate trade deals until it leaves in March 2019.
However, ministers say they can “scope” out future deals with key trade partners, such as the US, Australia and New Zealand.
The trade bill, one of nine pieces of new legislation in the pipeline to prepare the ground for Brexit, will be published on Tuesday although it will not be debated by MPs until a later date.
On the eve of the bill’s publication, one of Donald Trump’s leading allies said he was optimistic that the UK and US will sign a free trade deal after Brexit.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told the BBC there had already been a “joint scoping exercise” in Washington in July on a free trade agreement and another similar meeting will be held in London next week.
“We’re huge trading partners with each other and our economies are in many ways more similar to each other than either of us is to most of Europe,” he said.
“So there’s all the logic in the world for the US and the UK to be not only good trading partners, but FTA partners,” he said.
He also accused the EU of being guilty of “extreme protectionism”.
Mr Ross, who met Theresa May and other senior ministers during a two-day visit, identified continued “passporting” of financial services, compliance with EU food standards on GM crops and chlorine-washed chicken and future trade tariffs as areas that could pose problems in negotiations between the nations.
But he said it would not be possible to identify specific points of contention until the shape of the divorce deal is known and insisted he hopes a UK-US free trade agreement will take less than 10 years to negotiate.