Shanker Singham, who is the director of the International Trade and Competition Unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said the UK could fail to attract interest from potential trading partners if it presented itself as a miniature version of the EU after Brexit.
He said the UK could emerge as a major export platform at time when global anti-competitive regulation is rising.
Mr Singham called on British businesses to regard Brexit as a positive disruptor, adding: “By clinging on to what we already have, we may lose opportunities we never knew we could have.”
Mr Singham, who was until recently a member of the committee of experts at the Department for International Trade providing advice on Brexit, made the comments when he visited Leeds to talk to an audience of Yorkshire business leaders.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Singham told The Yorkshire Post that the US was keen to forge stronger ties with the UK. Mr Singham has served as a trade adviser to the US government and to a number of US political candidates, including the Republican Mitt Romney during his 2012 Presidential campaign.
Mr Singham said: “What the US would like to see is an ally on the global stage fighting for more liberalisation, better regulatory approaches; pro-competitive regulation, (and) science-based regulation.
He added: “That will require the UK to have regulatory autonomy. The real ability to set its own regulatory direction.
“There’s a notion, and you see it in the Government White Paper after Chequers, that the EU’s regulatory system is somehow the gold standard, to the rest of the world it isn’t.
“If we simply present (ourselves) as a mini version of the EU then we will not be interesting to trading partners. We will, in fact, become irrelevant to trading partners.”
He added: “You want to regulate in ways that are the least trade restrictive, least anti-competitive and consistent with a legitimate regulatory goal.
“If you do that, you will have a regulatory system that will maximise competition and innovation.”
Mr Singham called on businesses to speak to Government directly about the barriers that were stopping them from trading globally.
He told the audience: “Don’t be a spectator. Get active and get in the Government’s face.”
Mr Singham is a senior adviser to Grayling, the public relations and public affairs company that has an office in Leeds.
He spoke at an event organised by Grayling, which was held at The Tetley in Hunslet Road, Leeds, and chaired by Greg Wright, The Yorkshire Post’s deputy business editor.