Prince George's County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan, who traveled to Europe last fall at county expense, will take a two-week trip to Asia on Jan. 27, he said yesterday.
The Asian trip will cost county taxpayers $7,000. Its purpose, Hogan said, is the same as that of his trip to Europe: to encourage businesses to move into the county's foreign trade zone near Bowie, thereby boosting tax revenues.
"It's a good opportunity if it's as successful as the European trip was," Hogan said.
As a result of the European trip, a British texitle manufacturer called Britannia has signed a contract to move into the foreign trade zone, which was established on October. In addition, according to Hogan, more than 100 European businesses have expressed interest in moving to the zone.
A foreign trade zone is a geographical area where companies are allowed to import and assemble products without paying import taxes. The company pays import taxes only when its products leave the zone for sale in the United States. If the products are reexported, the company does not pay the import taxes.
The advantage to the company is that it can defer payment of the taxes until a sale has been made, and that labor and rent costs are occasionally cheaper in the U.S. than in other countries, according to the county's economic development department.
Hogan will be accompanied on the trip by his wife, Ilona, who will pay her own expenses, and by Jack Hawthorne, director of economic development for the county.
The three will fly first to Japan, where Hogan will address a group of executives from the Osaka-Nagoya area, a large industrial region. He also will meet with officials of the Japan External Trade Organization in Tokyo. He then will fly to Taiwan, where he will meet with business executives in Taipei.
The Taiwan government will pay the cost of the Taipei meeting and travel costs of the group between Tokyo and Taipei, according to Hogan.