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Panama Commerce Minister with key mining contract role named U.S. ambassador – Metro US

Panama Commerce Minister with key mining contract role named U.S. ambassador

FILE PHOTO: 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in
FILE PHOTO: 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo Cohen said on Tuesday he had appointed Ramon Martinez, currently the country’s Minister of Commerce and Industries, as Panama’s ambassador to Washington.

Martinez was the government’s lead negotiator for a new contract with a unit of Canada-based miner First Quantum which would lead to higher royalties. The contract has yet to be approved by the Panamanian congress.

Under the contract negotiated by Martinez, the Panamanian State will receive at least $375 million every year from the firm’s activities, a figure 10 times that obtained under past administrations, according to a government statement.

The company began negotiating a new contract with officials in September, after Cortizo vowed to seek a fairer deal with better public benefits.

Toronto-based First Quantum began commercial operations at Cobre Panama in 2019 and the copper mine contributes 3.5% of the country’s gross domestic product, according to government figures.

The date for Martinez’s transfer to the U.S. has not been disclosed.

(Reporting by Mariana Parraga and Elida Moreno; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Christian Plumb)

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