The Australian Government has invested A$240m ($166m) in funding for the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM).

The additional commitment will allow international freight routes and flights to continue operating until the end of this year.

It will enable Australian exporters to keep their business while facilitating the transportation of vital imports such as medical supplies and other essential items.

The support was announced by Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.

McCormack said: “This temporary measure has provided an export lifeline to thousands of farmers, fishers and other exporters around Australia during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“With few international passenger flights at present, restoring supply chains has been vital to maintaining relationships between exporters and their customers around the world.

“The Midfield Group in Warrnambool, Victoria, has been one of many beneficiaries of these freight flights, exporting high-quality lamb to the Middle East.”

The latest funding is in addition to $110m announced in April when IFAM was established.

The temporary measure has helped reconnect the global supply chains. More than 36,000t of products have so far been shipped to 50 destinations internationally.

Federal trade minister Simon Birmingham said: “A key feature of IFAM has been the logistical and administrative support for international freight movements by aggregating cargo loads, negotiating with airlines and dealing with partner governments to facilitate clearances and improve the transparency of freight costs during the pandemic.”