Jan 25, 2024 - Politics

Why Gov. Greg Abbott is visiting India

Photo illustration of Texas Governor Greg Abbott with lines radiating from him.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Bill Clark/Getty Images

Gov. Greg Abbott is spending the week in India with business leaders from Austin and around the state to boost trade and investment in Texas.

Why it matters: Abbott, who recently made a trip to Israel, continues to blaze an international trail as he fashions himself as a global leader.

Driving the news: Abbott began his 10-day trip Friday to meet with the country's government and technology leaders. It's the second time he has traveled to India as governor.

  • Texas business and economic development representatives joined the governor in India, including Opportunity Austin CEO Edward Latson and its vice president of global investment and innovation Corey Rose.
  • The trip is sponsored and paid for by the nonprofit Texas Economic Development Corporation.

The big picture: India holds the gaze of global corporations as they look for new sources of labor and revenue growth outside of China, writes Axios' Hope King.

  • India has already overtaken China as the most populous country in the world, and it's expected to contribute over 15% of the global GDP growth this year.
  • In Central Texas, people of Indian origin comprise the largest share of international homebuyers, according to an Austin Board of Realtors 2022 report.

What they're saying: "As the eighth-largest economy in the world and home to a highly skilled and growing workforce, Texas offers endless opportunities for business expansion and investment from our global partners," Abbott said in a statement.

By the numbers: In the last decade, companies from India have invested $1.4 billion in capital investment through 59 projects in Texas, creating more than 10,300 jobs, per the governor's office.

The intrigue: In the era of Trump in which strong-man leaders have held particular appeal, Republicans have found a friend in the right-wing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Zoom in: Governors have been traveling abroad to promote trade and attract foreign investments for decades, according to Lucas McMillan, a professor of political science at South Carolina's Lander University.

  • "Gov. Abbott is in a long line of governors who have traveled internationally to represent their state's interest," McMillan tells Axios. "Most of those travels have been connected to the global economy in some fashion, and my assumption is that is what drives Abbott because India is a nation of 1 billion people and is a growing economic power."
  • Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, said trips like these raise the profile of both governor and state: "That means the expanded political footprint and the ability to generate potential economic interest. It's for him, but it's also for the state."

Between the lines: Abbott's latest international trips come amid speculation that he could be eyeing higher office.

  • McMillan said governors sometimes travel abroad to position themselves for greater political ambitions: "If you are a governor who wishes to run for president of the United States, then international travel and being treated like a head of state rather than a head of a U.S. state is perhaps in your interest."
  • "There's no question that any governor of Texas is thinking big," Rottinghaus added.
  • But Abbott campaign consultant Dave Carney previously shrugged off the possibility of Abbott joining a ticket, telling Axios in November: "Zero thought on that, and I doubt he would consider it even for a minute."

What's next: Abbott's trip concludes Sunday.

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