COVID-19 Update | Final April Update

The latest news from the FTA, streamlined for ACF customers. 

Have we found the straw to break the camels back?

Reports over the weekend indicate that we will see a relaxation of restrictions in some states due to decreased reporting of new infections. This provides hope to many businesses that they too will soon be allowed to open back up which in turn will create jobs and again stimulate the economy.  Training institutions dependent on international students, tourism and hospitality, will no doubt have to wait some time before they see an influx of overseas visitors. So it will be up to Australians to stimulate that sector when intra-interstate travel is once again allowed.

In terms of trade, indications are that low import volumes for May will extend possibly into June/July from China as well as reduced exports from the USA and Europe may further impact the freight and logistics industry. We are also hopeful that our Cash Flow Boost and JobKeeper advocacy will ensure that members can maximise the financial relief offered via these schemes to also support SME’s in our sector of commerce.

On a more positive note FTA’s ongoing advocacy surrounding infrastructure/terminal access fees is gaining traction within the various state governments. These fees, need to be applied to the shipping lines, who can levy them against the owners of the cargo, giving the cargo owners the ability to negotiate and not have a situation where now they are levied through transport companies and adjusted, in many cases upwards, at the whim of the respective terminals

 China – Update

Our sources from China have provided us with the following updates 

  • China continues to test non-symptom patients to control community transmission. April 27, the government announced that there is no longer any COVID-19 patients in ICU in Wuhan. Heilongjiang’s breakout is also under control now. However, experts from Beijing University are expecting the virus will exist in the long term.
  • Chinese Customs are continuing to monitor medical exports. Since April 26, Chinese Customs have tightened the export of non-medical masks (refer quality control notice No 12, Ministry of Commerce of the PRC.) The government also released White list related to the medical and non-medical suppliers. Customs clearance will be different if suppliers are not on the white list and inspection will be mandatory with importer’s declaration required.
  • April 24 – At the Port Authorities Roundtable (PAR) hosted by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, 19 ports committed to keep operating during COVID-19 outbreak, including three ports from China – Shanghai port, Ningbo Port and Guangzhou Port.
  • According to Ministry of Transport of PRC (April 22), for the first season the volume of Chinese’s foreign trade is 95.4% comparing to first season of 2019. In March, China ’s port cargo throughput was 1.098 billion tons, an increase of 36% from February ’s 806 million tons, of which foreign trade cargo throughput was 354 million tons, an increase of 16% from February ’s 305 million tons, and container throughput was 2047. 10,000 TEU, an increase of 49% from February ’s 13.72 million TEU.
    The foreign trade of nine of the top ten provinces has decreased in the first season.
  • The General Office of the State Council of PRC has suggested 2.5 day weekends, some local governments are following the direction, such us Anhui province and Zhejiang province, some cities in Jiangsu, etc. The actions are not mandatory but clearly designed to stimulate the local economies of the provinces. The revised hours will no doubt have some impact on Chinese businesses operation hours.


General Update

  • North America – All Port Terminals will prioritise essential products (medical goods) movements over non-essential goods. However, cargo is still flowing into/in US and Canada. Terminal operators are preparing now to prevent anticipated cargo surge in May and June by offering on-terminal storage space for containers carrying non-essential merchandise.
  • Europe – not too dissimilar to the USA, Ports operational in most countries but processing is slow. Italy, restrictions starting to be lifted – export factories and public construction now open and the majority of Italy’s industry will start to open from May 4.  Spain, businesses and factories now back at work as are many government agencies. However, restrictions are still in place for retail stores, entertainment and leisure activities.  
  • United Kingdom Lockdown restrictions have been continued through to May 7 and will be reviewed at that time. All non-essential shops close – supply chain still operating but a number of businesses are working from home which is impacting cargo delivery.
  • New ZealandNew Zealand transition to stage 3 lockdown with businesses to open back up and allow deliveries from cargo terminals to be less impacted.
  • India – Lockdown extended till May 3 – some workers in the areas of agriculture, manufacturing and construction allowed to go back to work. internal “border” restrictions in place as “cases” are identified as coming from specific areas.

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) on Tuesday extended the facility given to businesses to import and export goods without furnishing bonds to the Customs authorities till May 15 in view of the extension of the lockdown period till May 3.


Economic Update                              

Markets continued to recover lost ground, as economies around the world begin to re-open. Optimism is relatively high, as business gets the cautious green-light in parts of Europe and the USA. Once economies re-open, the extent of the devastation that the economy has suffered, will start to be revealed.

A look at Australian CPI data today, will be a gauge of inflationary pressures and growth, while NZ trade will reveal how adversely imports and exports have been impacted

Airfreight Update

The $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) is underway with some 550 requests for support from Agriculture and Aquaculture business now lodged and ready for assessment. Already some 6600 tonnes of cargo has been assisted by Austrade in moving out of Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. As well as the $110 million IFAM program-specific businesses (exporters or freight forwarders not part of the approved panel) can apply for grants or block requests for space provided the products meet the criteria. As for import space is is strictly limited to medical supplies and is and driven through the 6 nominated forwarders or directly by the Australian government.

We will keep giving you the latest trade, customs, import, export and forwarding new as soon as we have it. 


The ACF Team