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16 April 2020

Western Australian Agrifood Export eNews

This first edition of  the Western Australian Agrifood Export eNews email newsletter is produced by the Agribusiness Food and Trade Directorate of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.  It will be published weekly, however 'breaking news' will be emailed out as necessary.  If you have any questions or information you want to share, please email export@dpird.wa.gov.au.  

International air freight support

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Australian Government has announced a new $110 million initiative to help exporters get their high-quality produce into key overseas markets, with return flights bringing back vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment critical to the ongoing health response.

Eligible products may include seafood (including lobster), premium red meat (including beef and pork), dairy (such as fresh milk and yoghurt) and horticulture (such as premium fruits and packaged salad or vegetables). Food products will be exported subject to adequate domestic supply.

The International Freight Assistance Mechanism will initially focus on the key markets of China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

This initiative is being coordinated by the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, with contact details to express interest in accessing program available here, or by calling 02 6272 2444. A COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund fact sheet provides further details. 

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is currently involved in discussions with the Federal Government’s IFAM on sustainable solutions for WA agrifood exporters.  DPIRD encourages all WA exporters to advise the WA Government of any expressions of interest submitted by emailing details to export@dpird.wa.gov.au in order to capture WA priorities.  More...  Source:  DPIRD | Photo:  Qantas  |  Related:  First flight takes off under $110 million freight assistance initiative  Source:  Federal Minister for Trade  | Abalone producer welcomes emergency export flight plan as Chinese demand drops  Source: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail  |  Air freight deal opens up Australian seafood exports to Asia  Source: The Lead, SA

Financial support to help Australian exporters bounce back

Australian exporters impacted by the COVID-19 crisis will now have access to business-saving loans between $250,000 and $50 million under a new $500 million capital facility to be administered by Export Finance Australia.

The new COVID-19 Export Capital Facility will target loans to established and previously profitable exporters who, due to COVID-19, are unable to gain finance from commercial sources.             

Under this scheme, the Federal Government will guarantee 50 per cent of new loans issued by eligible lenders to Small and Medium Enterprises up to $250,000.  More…  Source:   Federal Minister for Trade  |  Photo: Export Finance Australia

Aussie food trade opportunities in Singapore

As a part of its response to COVID-19, a Singapore government taskforce has identified priority food items they would like to source more of from Australia.

Products being sought include: chilled pork; fresh vegetables such as broccoli, pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, carrot, lettuce frisee, celery stalk, spinach, tomato, onion, and asparagus; fruits such as cantaloupe/rock melon, avocado, peach, strawberry and mango; frozen meat; canned meat; and canned/frozen vegetables.  Some food items – such as meat –  may need Singapore Government accreditation.

For further information or to express an interest, please email the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development at export@dpird.wa.gov.au. Source: Austrade / DPIRD / JTSI  |  Photo: WA Agrifood Export eNews  |  Related: Meat, fish, vegetables, fruits among products covered under nine country trade declaration  Source: Straits Times, Singapore

Export market insights

Valuable market insights for key international markets – such as China, South East Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa – are now available from Austrade and updated regularly as global markets impacted by COVID-19 respond to rapidly changing conditions.

In China, overall port operations have returned to normal, although some backlogs and transport difficulties remain.  Measures have been announced to increase air freight capacity, but these are unlikely to make up for the decrease in passenger belly cargo volumes in the short term. China’s road and rail network continues to ease restrictions, with Hubei the only province still imposing intra-provincial travel restrictions.  More...  Source & Photo:  Austrade  |  Related:  Cause for optimism from partial recovery recorded in China in March  Source:  FT, UK [paid subscription]

Export Market Development Grants now available

With COVID-19 severely impacting on international trade, WA agrifood and fisheries producers should check their eligibility for the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme, a key Australian Government financial assistance program for aspiring and current exporters.

Administered by Austrade, the scheme supports a wide range of industries and: encourages small- and medium-sized Australian businesses to develop export markets; reimburses up to 50 per cent of eligible export promotion expenses above $5,000 provided that the total expenses are at least $15,000; and provides up to eight grants to each eligible applicant.

On 1 April 2020, increased funding for EMDG was announced, with funding for the scheme  increasing by $49.8 million in the 2019-20 financial year, allowing exporters and tourism businesses to get additional reimbursements for costs incurred in marketing their products and services around the world.  More...  Source:  Austrade  |  Related:  EMDG at a Glance  |  Photo:  DPIRD

Initiatives to supply agricultural labour

The Western Australian Government and FoodAllianceWA have launched a dedicated program to support jobs and fill labour shortages in the agriculture and food industry across Western Australia in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FoodAllianceWA's 'Here for WA' campaign will help connect job seekers with opportunities across the agriculture, fisheries and food sectors, and build confidence in the State's food security.

The rapidly-changing COVID-19 crisis and restrictions on the movement of people is having a significant impact on the agricultural labour force.

The FoodAllianceWA is a network of agrifood industry associations, including the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, which have come together to assist the State Government address labour shortage issues across the sector.  More...  Source:  WA Minister for Agriculture & Food  |  Photo:  DPIRD  |  Related: How has COVID-19 impacted Australia's agriculture sector?  [Audio] Source: ABC Radio National

WA Government approves seafood industry stimulus package

Western Australia’s commercial fishers will welcome the news that the State Government has approved an additional $1.3 million package of fee relief measures to support WA’s commercial seafood sector and confirmation that fees charged to access the fishing resource will be deferred to 2021.

The new package is in addition to recent support provided to WA’s rock lobster fishery and is based on a proposal developed by the WA commercial fishing industry and the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) to assist the long-term recovery of the industry and re-position it to return to growth as quickly as possible.    More...  Source:  WAFIC  |  Photo:  DPIRD  |  Related:  Minister Tinley’s letter confirming the package approval  Source: WA Minister for Fisheries / WAFIC  |  COVID-19 Relief Measures for commercial fishing in WA  Source: DPIRD; COVID-19 Information  Source: WAFIC

Commercial fishers’ licence fees waived as part of stimulus push

Western Australia's Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley has announced additional relief measures valued at $1.3 million for Western Australia's commercial fisheries following last month's support package for the State's $448 million per year rock lobster fishery.

WA's fisheries were among the first to be financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic after China cancelled imports of seafood and brought the State's rock lobster industry to a standstill.

Prior to the outbreak, China was WA's biggest market for rock lobster, taking close to 95 per cent of the commercial catch.  More...  Source:  WA Minister for Fisheries  |  Photo:  DPIRD

In case you missed it: Webinar on impact of COVID-19 in Australia and China

Hosted by Australia China Business Council on 20 March 2020, this webinar panel included Daniel Boyer (Austrade General Manager for Greater China) on the business impact of COVID-19 on the ground in China, and Jenny West (Austrade General Manager for Trade and Investment) on the impact of the virus on Australian tourism and investment industries.  The event was partnered with Austrade and the Australian Embassy in Beijing.   More...  Source:  ACBC  |  Photo:  Austrade