Australia and the European Union hope to fire the starter's gun on free trade negotiations by the middle of the year.
The EU parliament has granted the European Commission permission to begin negotiations, however, the 28 member states are yet to officially approve a mandate.
There had been hopes that permission would come late last year.
EU industry commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, who is visiting Australia this week, expects negotiations to officially kick off by mid-year.
"I think this is a very good moment to show the partnership, friendship, and show we are for free trade and we don't want to build walls," Ms Bienkowska told AAP in Canberra.
The EU, as a bloc, is one of Australia's most important trading partners with total two-way trade in goods and services worth $99.5 billion.
The EU is also Australia's largest source of foreign investment, with a total stock worth more than one trillion dollars in 2016.
Both sides expect negotiation to be wrapped up within two years.
Australian Associated Press