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September 27, 2019
On September 25, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) approved a compromise proposal addressing the primary United States complaint about the current treaty that establishes postage for international in-bound parcels.The UPU is a 145-year-old 190-country postal association that sets the policies for the carriage of international mail.
As a result of the compromise, the United States representative to the UPU, U.S. State Department Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro, announced the U.S. would not leave the postal association. Such a departure would have disrupted international commerce and complicated the carriage of international mail.
Last year, President Trump warned that the U.S. would quit the UPU if the organization did not revise its process for setting "terminal dues"; that is, the portion of postage a destination country may charge for processing and delivery of mail. The current international agreement limited the destination country's ability to set that charge. The result of this limitation was that it was cheaper for a Chinese merchant to send a small parcel to the U.S., than it was for a U.S. merchant to send an item within our country. In addition, the existing postal treaty forced the USPS to subsidize the postage of such countries as China. According to the Postal Service, the present international postage regime cost the USPS $300 million to $500 million a year.
The United States' preferred remedy was to immediately implement a UPU policy to permit the destination country to "self-declare" postage for certain in-bound international mail from large volume exporting countries. This proposal was defeated. However, the compromise would defer the ability of the U.S. to set its own terminal dues rates until July 2020. Other countries seeking to set their own rates could phase them in, beginning in 2021. PMG Megan Brennan thanked the President and Director Navarro for negotiating the modification of the UPU policy.
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