After eight years of negotiations, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says she is hopeful of clinching a free trade agreement with China within months.
Ms Bishop was in Beijing this week for high-level talks with Chinese officials including Vice-President Li Yuanchao.
She told a press conference China, Australia's biggest trading partner, had expressed enthusiasm for a free trade agreement (FTA) days after a similar deal was inked between South Korea and Australia.
"There are many opportunities for our economic relationship to be broader and deeper and more diversified and the potential for a Free Trade Agreement was discussed," Ms Bishop told reporters in Beijing on Saturday.
"Indeed, the Vice-President indicated that he thought we had the opportunity to conclude a Free Trade Agreement in the very near future."
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has previously pledged to secure three FTAs in his first 12 months as prime minister.
The third hoped-for agreement would be with Japan.
Ms Bishop said Australia was still hopeful of reaching a deal with China within a year.
"We didn't put a time-frame on it, that's Australia's aspiration. But most certainly the Vice-President was very positive about the conclusion of an agreement within a short period of time," she said.
"We have been negotiating a free trade agreement with China for eight years now and the high quality, comprehensive agreement that we were able to conclude with South Korea gives us hope that we will be able to do something similar with China."