Owen Paterson spoke of countries such as the United States, Japan and Australia trading with the European Union without having to pay for access to the market.
Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme, he made the case for a tariff-free deal with the EU, insisting the Government was “emphatically” against paying for access.
He said: “The United States, Japan, Australia – they do not pay for access to the market. Normally, if you pay for access, you pay a tariff and we don’t want to have tariffs, we want to have a reciprocal free trade.
“So that is one area where I think emphatically we will not want to pay anything.”
He was then grilled on whether it was worth not paying for access “even if it means we lose a great deal of trade”.
Mr Paterson said: “We’d just pay a tariff, which of course will hit them harder because they have this massive surplus with us.
“Last year they had a surplus of €71.8billion, the Germans sold us 950,000 cars, so it’s absolutely in everyone’s interest that we get a reciprocal free trade deal and we don’t go near tariffs.
“But it’s a complete nonsense that we as an independent, sovereign nation, the same level standing as countries like the United States, Australia or Japan as I mentioned, should pay something.
“I also think that would probably be against WTO rules anyway because it would be discriminatory.”
The comments come as the Czech Republic’s European Affairs Minister Ales Chmelar told the programme he hoped Britain would be able to secure a “specific” trade deal with bloc which could be “deeper” than deals done with other countries around the world.
But he warned there would be “certain commitments” over “legacy issues” and previous agreements, which he said, “has to be settled”.
He said: “We still hope there will be a mutually agreeable settlement on trade issues, we also hope that the UK will have specific access to the European market.
“That’s something that we have negotiated, for example now with Canada – it can be much broader, it can be much deeper, and if it is deeper than other settlements, than other trade deals, then it is understandable that there will be certain commitments.”