Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer conducted her second international trade mission of the year, spending two days in Austria and Latvia, meeting with both business and government leaders. The governor stated that these international trips are an important part of her job, as the state looks to grow relationships and secure additional economic opportunities.

In Latvia, the second-term Democratic governor met with Latvian President Egils Levits and other ranking officials before visiting Michigan National Guard troops stationed in the country. Latvia is considered Michigan’s European ally, and the partnership between the two has reached 30 years. Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder visited Latvia in 2018 for the unveiling of a roadway named “Michigan Avenue.” During her visit, Governor Whitmer used the opportunity to show her support for Ukraine in what she described in a statement following the visit as “Russia’s illegal war.”

“It has become more important than ever to support our allies around the world to protect democracy,” Governor Whitmer stated.

In contrast to Governor Whitmer’s stance, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis characterized the war earlier this year as a “territorial dispute,” before walking back his comment. Governor Whitmer told the Associated Press that it’s “sad to see these political points being scored with Kremlin talking points.”

In Austria, Governor Whitmer met with business executives at AVL List GmbH, a global automotive supplier. The company’s North American headquarters are in Michigan, and Governor Whitmer discussed future expansion in the state.

Governor Whitmer spent five days in Europe in January, where she spoke at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos and visited Norway. According to her office, the trip was vital in securing a $400 million hydrogen facility in the state announced by Norwegian green hydrogen company Nel last week.

Governor Whitmer has been frequently mentioned as a future presidential candidate, but she denied any speculation that the overseas trips may signal any future ambitions.

“No one should read anything more into it other than it was an economic development trip and an opportunity to see our troops,” Governor Whitmer said.

Governor Whitmer’s international trade mission is part of her efforts to promote Michigan and bring in economic opportunities. The governor’s focus on international relations is seen as a way to create jobs and foster economic growth in the state.

Michigan has a history of strong international ties, with numerous global companies choosing to locate their operations in the state. Governor Whitmer’s efforts to build relationships with countries such as Latvia and Austria are seen as a way to strengthen these ties and attract further investment.

As Governor Whitmer continues to promote Michigan on the international stage, her efforts are expected to bring in new opportunities and economic growth for the state.