Australia subsidises air freight for agriculture exports to offset pandemic

On 31 March, Australia’s government said it will spend A$110 million ($67.4 million) to subsidise air freight for exports of agricultural products like beef and dairy after flight disruptions due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
calendar icon 1 April 2020
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According to reporting from Reuters, nearly 90 percent of Australian air freight is transported in planes carrying tourists. However, since dozens of countries have closed their borders to curb the spread of the coronavirus, many Australian exporters haven’t been able to move their products.

To jumpstart sales, the government said it will subsidise flights to Japan, Hong Kong, China, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. These markets usually pay a premium for Australian products like Wagyu beef and dairy.

"By getting flights off the ground, full of Australian produce, we're supporting our farmers and fishers who have been hit hard by this crisis," Australia's Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham said in an emailed statement.

The logistics of the freight flights are still being worked out, but Birmingham said many of the planes will return to Australia carrying medical supplies.

The funding will come from Australia's first economic stimulus package in response to the coronavirus outbreak that included A$1 billion for regional communities hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.

Australia's agriculture sector, one of the nation's biggest exporters with shipments worth about A$35 billion a year, said the funding would be critical in keep the industry afloat.

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