Trade Minister Tim Groser says a new negotiating strategy could breathe life into the Doha round of world trade talks.
He says a renewed focus on liberalising services industries could deliver a breakthrough in the nine-year-old round.
Bringing down barriers to trade and investment in services from banking to private education has been low on the agenda.
But Mr Groser says a growing realisation of their economic importance has changed that and could kick-start the negotiations.
The Doha round of talks broke down in 2008 after a disagreement between the United States and developing countries over agriculture.
Mr Groser says getting progress on services could persuade the United States to give up more in agriculture and get a deal over the line.