GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani stressed that the joint events organized by the GCC-European Ministerial Council in the 23rd session, which started its works in Kingdom of Bahrain today, particularly focused on the economic areas, for the European Union is still the first trade partner for the GCC. Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani also said that the volume of the trade exchange between them has reached more than 132 billion Euro in 2012, where the exports of the European Union were 80 billion, with trade surplus for the interests of the European Union reaching 28 billion Euro. During the opening of the ministerial council, Dr. Al-Zayani delivered a speech saying \"The economic sector and owners of finance and business in the GCC states and European Union consider this close relationship between the two sides as being a distinctive model for constructive cooperation to preserve the interests of both parties.\" Dr. Al-Zayani highlighted that the GCC states are worried that some of the decisions taken by the European Union lately may affect such relations, including the European Union\'s decision to exclude the GCC states from the generalized system of preferences (GSP), which will be applied as of January 2014, stressing that such step may be contrary to the existing spirit of cooperation between the two sides. Dr. Al-Zayani pointed out that the exception of the GCC countries may cause a decline in Gulf exports, contributes to the trade imbalance between the GCC and the European Union, and raises prices for European consumer. The GCC Secretary General concluded his speech by reinforcing that convening a free trade agreement between the two sides will contribute to strengthening of economic relations, increasing trade exchange and encouraging investment. He also highlighted that the issue of \"export tolls\" is still an obstacle to the conclusion of the Convention, where they agreed on all the other issues, which constitute more than 99% of the convention.