Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) Australia, the region's leading trade and investment promotion agency, have reopened applications to their COVID-19 Freight Assistance Package, a monetary grant designed to support Pacific exporters in the wake of COVID-19 through the subsidisation of freight costs.

The initiative provides all eligible Pacific exporters assistance towards freight costs incurred in the prior 6 months with grants of up to a maximum of A$2,500 per enterprise on a 50/50 cost share basis awarded to successful applicants.

Informed by PTI Australia’s Pacific Islands Export Survey 2020 report which revealed that freight costs were one of the top three barriers to export faced by Pacific businesses, PTI Australia’s COVID-19 Freight Assistance Package was launched later that same year and since then, has seen over 40 successful applicants receive the monetary grant.

Caleb Jarvis, PTI Australia’s Trade and Investment Commissioner, said the package has been well received by Pacific exporters, providing tangible support where needed most.

“We are so pleased to witness the incredible impact the COVID-19 Freight Assistance Package has had on SMEs in the Pacific, and it has been wonderful to see the grant has also been commended for both its efficiency and effectiveness by our Pacific colleagues and policymakers. During a time where the ongoing effects of COVID-19 have been immensely damaging to businesses in the Pacific, the Freight Assistance Package has enabled us to provide tangible, immediate and called for support at a time it was needed most.”

Designed to provide palpable 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.

For successful recipient of the grant, Jessica Cassell of boutique social enterprise, Bilum and Bilas in PNG, the impact of COVID-19 had been immense. Cassell said receiving PTI Australia’s COVID-19 Freight Assistance Package provided the business with much-needed support and relief.

“Our products make great gifts and souvenirs and one of our biggest clients was the gift shop in Port Moresby’s Jackson International Airport. With no commercial passenger planes coming in or out of the country the airport store is closed, so we lost our biggest wholesale account overnight. We have also lost our customer base of business travellers and tourists in general.

“In order to continue, our business has had to switch almost entirely to exporting our products internationally. We struggled to afford the additional cost involved in exporting our products to Australia. Receiving the Freight Assistance Package has significantly eased this pressure and means we can continue to pay staff wages and freight costs without going under.”

All recipients of PTI Australia’s COVID-19 Freight Assistance Package must have a registered business in one of the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) Member countries, be currently exporting to Australia or utilising eCommerce to ship globally, or be an Australian-based importer importing products from a registered business in a PIF Member country.

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.

Source: Press Release

For more information on how to apply for PTI Australia’s COVID-19 Freight Assistance Package, please visit