Paul J. Coughlin Jr., president of Washington Aluminum Co. in Baltimore, has been named president of the Maryland Manufacturers Association.

Coughlin, a lawyer and former special consultant to Francis J. West, assistant secretary of Defense for international security, said he hopes to make the business climate in Maryland more attractive to new businesses, expand the group's membership and increase its involvement in the Maryland legislative process.

"Maryland has a good labor force, excellent transportation services and many other positive aspects that should attract businesses," Coughlin said.

MMA, founded two years ago, has 80 member firms in Maryland, including McCormick & Co. Inc., Embassy Dairy, SteelTin Can Corp. and Washington Aluminum. The group currently offers seminars for manufacturers on cost reduction and critical legislative issues such as the tax structure and competition with neighboring states. TRADE

The Joint Maritime Congress, a research and educational association that represents more than 100 U.S.-owned ship companies, has promoted Bruce J. Carlton to deputy executive director. Carlton has been with the congress since 1975. PROFESSIONAL

The Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans has added two new members to its national staff. The association has hired Ellen Goldstein as director of public relations and membership development and Beth Goodrich as legislative associate.

The APPWP is a national trade association that represents the private pension and employe benefit interests of about 450 companies, banks and law offices nationwide.