China has signed an agreement with the European Union and the United States to ease trade tensions with North Korea.

The European Union said it would begin negotiations on a $US1.6 billion ($1.9 billion) deal for energy and logistics.

The deal, which China will sign on Tuesday, was signed in Brussels by Chinese President Xi Jinping, European Union President Donald Tusk and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The two sides also signed a memorandum of understanding that will facilitate the establishment of a joint energy security system and joint development of renewable energy projects.

The US, Russia and the European Council will work together to strengthen and develop joint cooperation in defence, trade and environmental issues, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

It said the deal will help China and its partners to better safeguard their trade and economic interests.

China and the EU have long been at odds over the fate of North Korea, which is locked in a nuclear standoff with the United Nations.