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15 July, 2020

International Freight Assistance Mechanism extended as passenger flights put on pause

Those producers battling to export fresh produce overseas in the wake of COVID-19 have welcomed a $240 million boost in Federal funding this month.

International Freight Assistance Mechanism
Fresh food exporters have welcomed an extension on the Federal Government’s International Freight Assistance Mechanism until the end of the year.

On July 3 the Australian Government announced it will extend the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) until the end of the year, with a commitment it says will deliver $3 billion worth of produce to key international markets. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the initiative had been welcomed by sectors dependent on air freight.

"This funding extension will provide ongoing certainty for our exporters who rely on air freight and will help to protect the tens of thousands of jobs of those who rely upon on our export sector" Mr Birmingham said.

Almost all air freight from Australia is carried in the cargo hold of commercial aircraft, but COVID-19 restrictions have cancelled the majority of outbound flights. Since the IFAM was first announced in March, the program has assisted more than 1800 flights deliver 36000 tonnes of produce, valued at $1 billion.

However, the scheme requires a minimum five tonne consignment to qualify for assistance. Matthew Bronickis from the WA Freight and Logistic Council said the scheme would not help low-volume producers.

"The larger exporters are finding it easy because they have sheer mass and economies of scale. They can charter a plane" Mr Bronickis said.

IFAM has already assisted exporters to establish flights to more than 50 locations including Singapore, China, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

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