The Federal Government has announced a $240 million funding injection to help keep international freight routes and flights operating under its International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM), that is anticipated to extend until the end of 2020.
Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the temporary International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) had already helped secure carriage of more than 36,000 tonnes of exports to 50 key international destinations and had also supported the import of critical medical supplies.
“With international travel restrictions expected to remain in place for the foreseeable future, our exporters and key importers will continue to face significant barriers,” Simon said.
“This is about restoring global supply chains. These freight flights have been critical to getting produce out the door during these tough times and helping to keep our exporters in business and connected to their hard-won established global customers.”
“This temporary measure has provided an export lifeline to thousands of farmers, fishers and other exporters around Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said.
“With few international passenger flights at present, restoring supply chains has been vital to maintaining relationships between exporters and their customers around the world,” he said.
Simon said a key feature of IFAM has been the logistical and administrative support for international freight movements by aggregating cargo loads, negotiating with airlines and dealing with partner governments to facilitate clearances and improve transparency of freight costs during the pandemic.
“It’s absolutely critical that we keep exports and vital imports such as of medical supplies and other essential items flowing as we continue the economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.
Industry supports funding boost
The Freight and Trade Alliance (FTA) said in a statement that its “sensational news” to receive confirmation IFAM will receive a boost of $240 million which is anticipated to extend the measure until the end of 2020.
“As highlighted in our initial submission to the National Covid-19 Coordination Commissionon 27 March 2020, the air cargo sector desperately needed financial support,” Sal Milici, Head of Border and Biosecurity FTA said in a statement to members on Friday.
FTA Members will recall the Federal Government responded with the implementation of the IFAM, initially injecting $110M as a temporary measure to help restore critical global supply chains heavily impacted by COVID-19 containment measures.
“FTA has since actively collaborated with the Austrade IFAM implementation and policy teams and in parallel, have been advocating to government for an extension of the measure,” Sal said.
“The goal is now clearly to get primary producers back to work and increase tonnage moving by air. FTA will be attending a briefing hosted by Austrade in coming days and will provide members with further updates.”
Major win for farmers
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said this was a major win for Australian farmers.
“We’re backing our farmers by making sure they can continue to get more of their high-quality product into overseas markets,” David said.
“Keeping our farmers connected with their established international customers will help them keep their operations going so they can keep producing a top quality export product and enhance their reputation as a reliable partner.”
Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said IFAM had been critical to getting our seafood industry back on its feet.
“Under this program we’ve already helped get over $500 million worth of Australian seafood from almost every state and territory out of the water and on to planes,” Jonno said.
“This funding extension locks in ongoing support for the thousands of fishers, divers, deckhands and processors that underpin our world-renowned premium-quality seafood industry.”