Australia can maintain strong relationships with both China and Japan, despite their ongoing political spat, the country's Trade Minister told CNBC.
Earlier this month Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Australia prompted speculation that Australia risked damaging its relationship with China, its largest trading partner.
Tensions over the disputed ownership of islands in the East China Sea have kept China and Japan at loggerheads in recent years, souring trade relations between them.
But Australia's Trade Minister Andrew Robb told CNBC at the B20 Australia 2014 conference on Thursday, this should not be the case.
"If you increase your friendship with one friend, it doesn't mean you reduce your friendship with others. We can and we must maintain and grow very strong relationships and greater trust with all of these countries in the region," said Robb.
"We have 51 percent of our exports going to Japan, South Korea or China. It is fundamental for us and for the region that we have strong relationships with each of these countries," he added.
Australia has secured bilateral trade deals with both Japan (this month) and South Korea (in April), but an equivalent free trade agreement with China has been proven difficult to nail down and has been under negotiation for nearly a decade.
Robb told CNBC the Chinese were "tough negotiators" but he expects the agreement to be finalized by year-end.
"We're at I'd say a fairly advanced stage… they've stalled badly over recent years and I think we've breathed good life back into it," he said.
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"There is still a lot of work to be done, they are tough negotiators I've got to say, but we have set a framework and if the political will is there we can reach a favorable agreement by the end of this year," he added.