IFAM extended until mid-2022
9th September 2021
The Minister for Trade, Investment and Tourism, the Hon. Dan Tehan, has announced the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) will be extended until mid next year. The Minister said IFAM will receive an additional $260.9 million to continue operations until 30 June 2022, with an operational tail to the end of July 2022.
The scheme has been a lifeline for Australian exporters of premium argri-food products, especially live rock lobster and abalone. In a recent IFAM briefing, officials provided more insights around the program, warning that air freight conditions had deteriorated:
● Despite the extension, IFAM had entered a difficult phase with reduced flight capacity and rising prices;
● Reduced passenger arrivals into Australia had resulted in many airlines reducing services to Australia, particular from North America (for example, America Airlines had completely withdrawn until end of October, Air Canada was also not flying for next two months);
● Government hoped to see more scheduled flights when Australia’s passenger caps were eased;
● Prices were rising due to scarcity, with planes, pilots and crew all constrained;
● Seafreight was similarly constrained with global container shortages and prices rising by 300% – 500%;
● The situation might improve by November as the peak shipping season passed and Australia’s vaccination rates were expected to reach levels that would allow for less passenger restrictions on flights.
Officials urged exporters to work with importers to lobby for more flights, as requests would be more effective from inside the target market. Freight forwarders were key to getting access to flights with a highly competitive season coming up and capacity currently at 100%.
The full announcement from the Minister for Trade, Investment and Tourism, the Hon. Dan Tehan, is below:
The Coalition Government is supporting Australian jobs and businesses by providing an additional $260.9 million to maintain the critical airfreight links between Australian businesses and their international customers, which is critical to maintaining the flow of exports and imports.
Our Government has now provided $1.04 billion to support Australian jobs and exporters through the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM), ensuring a wide variety of Australian produce has reached its international customers, such as:
- cheese from New South Wales
- asparagus from Victoria
- tropical rock lobster from Queensland
- native flowers from Western Australia
- abalone from South Australia
- oysters from Tasmania
- mangoes from Northern Territory
IFAM will be maintaining global air links in the face of supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. IFAM has already:
- Supported 35,000 jobs and 120,000 jobs indirectly reliant on airfreight
- Reconnected nine Australian ports to 58 international destinations since taking flight on 1 April 2020
- Supported more than 13,000 flights
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said the extension to IFAM meant Australian businesses had the continued certainty of being able to reach important markets while they adjusted to the world’s ‘new-look’ supply chains.
“IFAM has been a lifeline for thousands of Australian farmers, fishers and primary producers, mostly in regional Australia,” Mr Joyce 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 collaborating with partner state and territory governments to facilitate clearances and improve transparency of freight costs during the pandemic.”
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said IFAM, a temporary, emergency measure, had helped exporters and importers stay connected to existing clients through an incredibly challenging period, and maintained business confidence.
“Our Government’s support for Australian producers has ensured they have maintained their reputation as high-quality, reliable suppliers,” Mr Tehan said.
“Australia is a trading nation and trade creates jobs, drives innovation and underpins our economic growth.
“The program has been critical to ensuring the flow of vital imports such as medical supplies and other essential items as Australia continues its economic recovery.”
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the additional funding 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,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Keeping our farmers connected with their established international customers helps keep their operations going and maintains their reputation as a reliable supplier of top-quality product.”
For more information on IFAM, visit www.austrade.gov.au/ifam. The is also the opportunity to Subscribe to the IFAM newsletter to receive timely updates.
This announcement can be found here
You can find the full STAG Seafood Trade Matters publication here, with all of the week’s top stories: