ONGOING support for the International Freight Assistance Mechanism has been welcomed by industry groups and entities associated with the cross-border movement of goods.

The IFAM is closely associated with air freight, something hard hit by COVID-19 as freight is frequently moved in the belly of passenger aircraft and many flights have had to be cancelled.

The budget handed down by treasurer Josh Frydenberg included $317m to continue the scheme until 30 June next year.

Freight and Trade Alliance director and Australian Peak Shippers Association secretariat Paul Zalai said they had consistently argued for additional funds to maintain the International Freight Assistance Mechanism, as well as JobKeeper and similar financial relief measures to support the air cargo supply chain sector.

“We are delighted to note the allocation of an additional $317m to extend IFAM until 30 June 2021,” Mr Zalai said.

“FTA / APSA will continue the advocacy lead for an extension of this support for the 21/22 financial year.”

International Forwarders and Customs Brokers Association of Australia CEO, Paul Damkjaer, said the IFAM funding would “enable primary producers [to] get their high-quality perishable products into overseas markets while flights remain limited”.

He noted supply chain challenges, however.

“In saying the above, if the government cannot ensure that Australia has an efficient port system, money spent is of no use to the majority of Australian consumers,” Mr Damkjaer said.

He noted that as part of the government’s $28.6m investment in a simplified trade system, a single trade window was expected to help remove border congestion.

“The government is providing $7.8m to continue simplifying Australia’s trade system by overhauling outdated regulations and streamlining compliance processes for business,” he said.

“The revelatory agencies have discussed this over many years without any real substantive results, let’s see under the current conditions if real progress is made.”