The Universal Postal Union’s Secretary General Bishar A Hussein has closed the third Extraordinary Congress by congratulating around 800 representatives from over 130 countries for reaching an agreement on postal remuneration rates.
The approval of the rate proposal, known as Option V, will see the UPU accelerate rate increases to the system used to remunerate the delivery of inbound international bulky letters and small packets, phasing in self-declared rates as soon as 2020.
“Option V stands for victory, but it is your victory,” Hussein said during the closing session on September 26. “You came together, and you showed a sense of responsibility, and you proved this Union is resilient.”
Throughout the last day’s sessions, held to approve changes to the UPU Convention agreed as part of the Option V agreement on September 25, a succession of member countries congratulated the UPU on finding a solution to the complex issue of postal remuneration rates.
In his own statement, the Assistant Secretary General of the UPU, Pascal Clivaz said, “We are a family and we proved that yesterday [September 25]. Together we have proved the value of multilateralism.”
Under the agreed Option V solution, member countries that meet certain requirements – including inbound letter-post volumes in excess of 75,000 metric tonnes – would be able to opt-in to self-declare their rates starting July 1, 2020. Thresholds are included to protect low volume, developing countries from the impact of the swift reform.
Speaking of the decision, the UPU director for policy, regulation and markets, Siva Somasundram said, “This is a landmark decision for multilateralism and the Union. The Geneva Extraordinary Congress has shown that 192 countries can reach solutions on complex issues by acclamation.”
The postal remuneration system, also known as the terminal dues system, ensures that posts are compensated for the cost of handling, transporting and delivering bulky letters and small packets across borders. Member countries agreed on the current system during the 2016 Universal Postal Congress in Istanbul.
On October 17, 2018, the US sent the UPU a letter of withdrawal, but stated that it would not do so if a solution to the remuneration rates system was found.
One of the UPU’s governing bodies, the Council of Administration, fast-tracked discussions on changes to the remuneration system. In June 2019, member countries voted by postal ballot to hold a third Extraordinary Congress to decide on the proposed changes.