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U.S. Achieves Overhaul of Postal Rates at UPU Congress

Delegates from 192 nations reached a breakthrough agreement on postal rates at the 24-25 September congress of the Universal Postal Union in Geneva. Even though the UPU was founded in 1874 this was only the third congress in the history of this specialised United Nations agency, held primarily in response to U.S. demands for an overhaul of postal rates for delivery of packages from other countries to their final U.S. destination.

According to press reports, the UPU congress resulted in an agreement by acclamation that will allow high-volume importers of mail and packages to begin imposing “self-declared rates” for distributing foreign mail from January 2021, with a five-year period for phasing in new fees. Countries that meet certain requirements, including in-bound letter-post volumes in excess of 75,000 metric tonnes based on 2018 data, may self-declare their rates from 1 July 2020.

According to a Reuters article, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who led the U.S. delegation, told a Geneva news conference that the United States will begin self-declaring its rates “at the end of June next year,” which according to Navarro is “exactly what we wanted and planned for.” Navarro also said that “China is certainly going to pay more for the privilege of shipping to our market” and added that “we’ll buy less Chinese stuff” as a result. UPU Director-General Bishar Hussein noted that “once a country declares their rate, exporting countries will have to factor that cost…the end-customer will definitely have to pay a higher price.”

The United States had threatened to withdraw from the UPU effective 17 October and uni-laterally self-declare its rates if an acceptable agreement was not reached at the Geneva congress.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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