What is the International Freight Assistance Mechanism?
The International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) is a temporary measure to help restore critical global supply chains which have been impacted by COVID-19 containment measures around the world.
The International Freight Assistance Mechanism is necessary to ensure essential imports such as medicines and medical supplies can be transported to Australia. It also provides the opportunity, on the outbound legs, for producers of high-value agricultural and fisheries products, and other items of national interest, to resume servicing supply contracts with their international customers.
Australian businesses need to use the time now to review their operating models and with the temporary support of IFAM, adjust to a new trading environment.
The International Freight Assistance Mechanism was established in April 2020 with $110 million in funding to help rebuild critical global air supply links. IFAM is led by Air Vice-Marshal Margaret Staib AM CSC as the Australian Government Freight Controller, supported by Mr Michael Byrne as the International Freight Coordinator General.
The grants program will assist to keep:
- high-value, time sensitive and perishable goods, as well as
- items deemed to be in the national interest by the Freight Controller (including vital imports, such as medical supplies and other essential items)
The intended outcomes of the IFAM grants are to:
- re-establish supply chains into and out of Australia, albeit not at pre-COVID19 levels while the pandemic continues;
- reduce the sudden significant economic impact on businesses that rely on airfreight; and
- minimise the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Australian workers.
The Australian Government has committed $1.04 billion to the International Freight Assistance Mechanism program, to help keep international supply chains open until 31 July 2022, until funds are expended or until IFAM is no longer needed (whichever occurs first).
These amounts are to fund flights through the panel of airlines until 31 July 2022, as well as any grants program. The grants program is only part of the International Freight Assistance Mechanism program. The grants program does not comprise the entirety of the Australian Government’s funding for IFAM and may not be used for all of IFAM.
Any grants applied for using funds from 1 October 2021 will be managed in accordance with these guidelines, until they are amended or replaced.
To be eligible, the grant activity must be for airfreight on:
- International flights:
- an incoming or outgoing international flight into or out from Australia carrying items of national interest (including medical supplies, medicines and equipment to support Australia’s health response) as approved by the Freight Controller or their delegate; or
- an outgoing international flight carrying Australian eligible products to key international markets for that product, which was requested by, and arranged in conjunction with, an Australian exporter of that product; and
- a domestic connecting flight in Australia, but only where there is no practical international flight:
- for exports – from near the Australian point of origin; or
- for imports – to near the Australian destination.
Eligible products include:
- seafood (including lobsters)
- premium red meat (including beef, lamb and pork)
- dairy (such as fresh milk and yoghurt)
- horticulture (such as premium fruits and packaged salad or vegetables)
On inbound flights we have prioritised critical medical supplies and medicines including:
- personal protection equipment (PPE)
- pharmaceuticals and consumables
- medical equipment and consumables
- inputs to health industries
Given the cost of airfreight, not all products are eligible at this time.
To be eligible to receive a grant the prospective grantee must be providing freight forwarding services or airfreight services for eligible products on behalf of an Australian business/company which must (eligible business):
- have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
- be registered for the purposes of GST
- have an account with an Australian financial institution
The prospective grantee must be able to demonstrate they are providing freight forwarding services or airfreight services by stipulating shipment and freight details, as well as product information about eligible products.
Applications open on an ongoing basis, or until funds are exhausted.