MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Britain must seek bespoke multi-lateral and bilateral trade arrangements after it exits the European Union rather than fall back on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said on Thursday.

Fox said in a speech Britain would take part in WTO efforts to reduce red tape across borders, phase out distortive export subsidies, and scrap trillions of dollars’ worth of tariffs.

"However, where progress has stalled at the multi-lateral level, the UK must be ready to look to more bespoke plurilateral and bilateral arrangements to ensure that the global market place remains fair and free," he said.

In his 25-minute speech, Fox stuck to generalities and gave no new details about how Britain would approach negotiations on the terms of its exit from the EU.

"My message today is a simple one: free trade has and will continue to transform the world for the better," he said. "The UK has a golden opportunity to forge a new role for ourselves in the world, one which puts the British people first."

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; writing by Estelle Shirbon and Helen Reid; editing by Stephen Addison)