Germany is firmly against protectionist practices in trade and economic relations with Russia, Germany’s Deputy Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said at a conference devoted to ways of improving Russia’s investment image in Germany, which opened in Berlin on Friday.

“Russia should maintain its reputation of a good investment platform,” Gabriel said. “We want Russia to use its chance for greater integration in the world economy.”

“If Moscow takes measures to protect its enterprises, it causes certain damage to its trade partners,” he said, adding that “protectionism is unlikely to succeed”.

Gabriel noted that economic relations between Germany and Russia “have an enormous potential”.

“More than 6,000 German companies actively cooperate with Russia, and this is mainly medium-sized business”, he said, adding that Russia was “the second most important car market in Europe” today.

At the same time, “the list of trade and political issues to be discussed between Russia and the European Union has become even longer after Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO)”, the minister said.

“I must say that the federal government shares the European Commission’s position on Russia’s commitments to the WTO,” he said. “And we should look for ways to settle the existing differences”.

Gabriel said he favoured localization of manufacturing in Russia when a corresponding business climate and a legal framework were provided.

“We would not oppose German companies’ wish to establish manufacturing areas abroad,” he said. “We support this.”

“There is evident progress in Russia, and Germany is watching it with great interest,” Gabriel added.