Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) Australia’s 2020 Pacific Islands Export Survey revealed that freight costs are one of the top three barriers to export faced by Pacific businesses, which was further exacerbated when COVID-19 drastically affected shipping routes and thus inflated costs.
To support Pacific exporters in the wake of COVID-19, PTI Australia launched the COVID-19 Freight Assistance Package in late 2020 and has now seen over 30 successful applicants receive the monetary grant.
PTI did not disclose the names but confirmed to Daily Post that three Vanuatu based exporting businesses and one business importing Vanuatu goods received the Freight Assistance Package.
The grants delivered were a maximum of $2,500 per enterprise, to offset freight costs incurred in 2020.
PTI Australia’s COVID-19 Freight Assistance Package is designed to provide tangible relief to businesses in the Pacific during the unprecedented pressures the COVID-19 economic crisis has presented. The package also aims to support the growth in demand for Pacific goods and services in international markets and the long-term development of eCommerce in the Blue Pacific.
Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor, said PTI Australia’s Freight Assistance Package is a proactive example of understanding and alleviating pain points currently facing the region’s private sector.
“PTI Australia’s Freight Assistance Package is a visible extension of the work being done by the Forum. It shows a deep understanding of the challenges faced by our Members and Pacific exporters, coupled with a straightforward simple solution. These targeted and informed initiatives are crucial to support the economic recovery for all nations that make up our Blue Pacific.”
Jeremy Grennell, PTI Australia’s General Manager of Export, said the feedback from the Freight Assistance Package has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We are so pleased to roll out the Freight Assistance Package and witness the incredible impact it is having on SMEs in the Pacific. The ongoing effects of COVID-19 have been damaging to businesses in the Pacific and businesses require tangible support – now. Our COVID-19 Freight Assistance Package enables us to provide immediate needed support.”
The impact of the continued closure of international borders on Alex Hill’s glass-blowing studio, Hot Glass in Fiji, has been immense; PTI Australia’s COVID-19 Freight Assistance Package has provided the business with much-needed support and relief.
Alex said, “We are really happy with the Freight Assistance Package. In our business, the cost of shipping and access to payment gateways are the two major handbrakes on exporting, so this initiative from PTI Australia is not just very helpful and timely, but also targets a real issue for businesses like ours.”
All recipients of the PTI Australia’s COVID-19 Freight Assistance Package must have a registered business in one of the Pacific Island Forum countries, be currently exporting to Australia or utilising eCommerce to ship globally, or are an Australian-based importer importing products from a registered Pacific Island business.
Founded in 1979, PTI Australia is an agency of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. Funded by the Australian Government, it facilitates trade and investment in the Pacific Islands.