China and the European Union (EU) are preparing to start negotiations on a bilateral investment agreement, said Shen Danyang, spokesman for China's Ministry of Commerce, on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported. The agreement could be announced at the China-EU Summit scheduled later this month in Beijing, according to the spokesman. Shen told a regular press briefing that China and the EU had reached a consensus on the timing at the fourth China-EU High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue, held on Oct. 24 in Brussels. China and the EU are comprehensive strategic partners and have close economic and trade ties. An investment agreement will be conducive not only to promoting two-way investment, but also to developing a balanced economic and trade relationship between the two sides, said the spokesman. "China is ready for this major negotiation," he said. China and the EU will hold their 16th summit in Beijing later this month to outline cooperation for the next five to ten years. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will launch the summit with European leaders on Nov. 21. Shen said trade and investment between the two sides had been blessed with good growth momentum in recent years despite some difficulties. In the first 10 months of this year, trade with the European Union, China's largest trade partner, edged up 0.5 percent year on year, compared with a 0.8-percent contraction registered in the first nine months of 2013. EU's investment in China jumped 23 percent from a year earlier in the Jan.-Oct. period, while China's investment in the EU doubled in the same period. One highlight of China-EU economic and trade ties has been the cooperation between Chinese enterprises and European companies, which own advanced technologies and famous brands, according to Shen. He said trade friction is inevitable as China-EU trade continues to expand, and consultation and dialogue are the right choice for resolving disputes. "The resolution of the solar panel friction shows that China and the EU are able and wise enough to properly manage their trade frictions," Shen said. In July of this year, China and the EU settled a trade dispute over solar panels involving more than 20 billion U.S. dollars worth of Chinese exports after hard negotiations on price and quotas. Shen also confirmed that officials from China and the EU had made some initial communication on the topic of establishing an early warning system to avoid trade disputes.