The Trump administration has announced that it will remove the USA from the Universal Postal Union (UPU) claiming that the UN treaty provides unfair international mailing rates giving some countries, such as China, a competitive edge. The UPU received a letter on October 17 announcing that the USA will withdraw membership to the union a year from now.
In a statement released by the UPU, director general Bishar A Hussein said he regrets the decision and will seek to meet representatives of the Government of the United States of America to further discuss the matter. “The UPU remains committed to attainment of the noble aims of international collaboration by working with all its 192 member countries to ensure that the treaty best serves everyone,” he said.
According to the White House, the USA will seek to renegotiate the rules of the UPU during the year-long withdrawal process. “If negotiations are successful, the administration is prepared to rescind the notice of withdrawal and remain in the UPU,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
The UPU’s multilateral agreement sees that shipping rates for international mail from developing economies are lower than those from developed economies. According to the US Postal Service, the price for a 4.4 lb package shipped from one US state to another is US$19-23, while China Post pays US$5 to ship it anywhere in the USA. According to the White House, the USA plans to develop its own international postal rates unilaterally.
According to international shipping provider ParcelHero, the UPU is paying the price for failing to raise the ultra-cheap rates China pays for postage to the West. ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks, said, “Not for the first time, President Trump is opening up a can of worms over overseas trade. If the USA declares its own postal dues, China may also impose its own rates and we could end up with a tit-for-tat situation in which every country sets its own dues; overthrowing an arrangement that has been in place for many decades.”
Established in 1874, the Universal Postal Union is a United Nations specialized agency and has its headquarters in the Swiss capital Berne. It is one of world’s oldest international organizations. The UPU is the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players and helps to provide a truly universal network of up-to-date products and services that actively benefit this sector.