Executives of Matsushita Electric, the world's fourth-largest electronic products manufacturer, met with Maryland economic development officials last week following an inspection tour of prospective assembly plant sites in Prince George's County.
The group toured the county's foreign trade zone south of Bowie and two other sites.
The foreign trade zone allows duty-free imports of assembly parts and then levies a tax on the finished product.
Products Matsushita manufactures include Quasar televisions, Technics stereos, RCA video cassette recorders and Panasonic electronic equipment. The company is among the 50 largest corporations in the world.
"They looked at a number of potential areas in the county," said Joseph Edwards, director of state program planning and economic development.
A spokesman for Matsushita Electric in Secaucus, N.J., would not comment specifically on the visit to Prince George's County butnoted that it is common practice for executives to tour different sites in the initial stages of selecting a possible expansion area.
The company executives are on a 10-day international trip. Following the Prince George's County tour, they went to Atlanta to look at possible sites. Edwards said they gave no indication of the type of plant they might build or when a possible expansion would take place.
Matsushita already is in the process of moving part of its operations into Maryland. Panasonic, a subsidary of Matsushita, will transfer its mid-Atlantic headquarters from Secaucus to Glen Burnie in August. The $5 million facility under construction at the Bay Meadow industrial park will cover 150,000 square feet and employ 125 people.
Maryland officials said they expect to hear from Matsushita in the next three weeks.
Maryland has been pursuing a policy of soliciting foreign business. Liaison offices have been set up in Europe and Japan to help foreign businesses arrange visits to the state and initiate financial arrangements.
State and county economic officials were scheduled to leave yesterday for a fifth trip to Japan, during which they hope to identify Japanese companies interested in locating in Maryland.
The state's program has helped boost employment by foreign firms in Maryland from 17,601 in 1974 to 37,290 in 1979, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. From 1977 to 1979, employment of Americans by foreign firms jumped 45 percent nationally. Maryland was second in the nation with an 82.6 percent increase, behind Georgia's 82.7 rise.
Lou Panos, press secretary for Gov. Harry Hughes, said Maryland authorities have "taken particular pain to generate a favorable business climate."
"Over the past four years, we have had new capital investment totaling more than $4 billion by more than 1,600 companies, with actual or projected creation of more than 90,000 jobs," Panos said.