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Support for high-value agricultural exports

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Marine Protect agriculture and fisheries customers take note: a new government scheme is in place to help the sectors export to key overseas markets.

The International Freight Assistance Mechanism, worth $110 million, will secure freight flights into key export markets such as China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UAE. The Asian countries alone account for some 46.9% of Australia’s agricultural exports.

“It’s good news for our customers,” says Andrew Kidd, NTI’s Head of Marine. “There was a real impact when we saw the Chinese shutdown … it was a clear message of how much we rely on China as a customer for our produce.”

Relief from levies

In a further boost to trade, Commonwealth fishers will not have to pay some $10 million in Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) levies, which are waived for the remainder of 2020.

What products are eligible?

The Mechanism’s goal is to support farmers by helping them secure export sales, especially for high-value agricultural products. These include seafood and chilled meat, both of which are in high demand throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Eligible products from high-value agricultural and fishery producers include:

  • Seafood (including lobsters).
  • Premium red meat (including beef and pork).
  • Dairy (including fresh milk and yoghurt).
  • Horticulture (including premium fruits and packaged salad or vegetables).

Flights will depart from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, and on their return trips will bring medical supplies into the country.

How to apply

To apply for air-freight support, visit the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s information page, which has further information for producers and exporters.

The department is establishing a process to capture exporter feedback and provide other information, and has also created an information line: (02) 6272 2444.

Strong leadership

Michael Byrne has been appointed International Freight Coordinator General. He brings considerable industry experience to the role, as a managing director of Toll Holdings and Linfox, and a non-executive director of Australia Post.

He will work with Austrade, exporters, airliners, freight forwarders and industry bodies to establish the necessary arrangements. Once in place, he will oversee the Mechanism’s operations, including destination selection, freight selection and prioritisation, and keeping the Government informed about the Mechanism’s progress and status.

Impact on insurance

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on global trade – and insurance. We are seeing major disruptions and reductions in trade volumes thanks to:

  • Additional biosecurity measures.
  • Cancelled transport services.
  • Deviated, restricted and delayed shipments.
  • Travel and entry bans.
  • Personnel shortages.

NTI’s Marine Protect remains committed to its customers, which means normal policies apply at the moment. We are working with government, industry bodies and our customers to ensure we’re responding flexibly to a rapidly changing situation.

The Mechanism will help high-demand agricultural and fisheries exporters stay in business and position themselves for further operations. Thanks to Australia’s strict quarantine and food-quality regimes, our produce is sought after in many export markets, whether it’s a bottle of wine, a rock lobster, our beef, our citrus or anything else.

“The world likes to eat clean and green,” says Andrew. “It’s good to see this initiative to get freight back into planes and moving again.”