Leaving the UPU Universal Postal Union

The USA is Leaving the UPU (Universal Postal Union)

The White House announced it is leaving a 144 year old global postal agreement due to the current trade war with China. China benefits from significantly lower postage costs thanks to a decades old agreement to help poor and developing nations with lower postage rates. China is now the second largest economy in the world, and China should no longer be classified as a poor or developing country. Something must be done to level the playing field, but leaving the UPU only stands to isolate the US.  Many other countries, including all US allies, are facing the same inequities and are working with the UPU to negotiate fair terminal dues. With the US withdrawing, China now has one less party voting for a fair deal.

Leaving the UPU May Severely Damage the USPS

For the USPS, leaving the UPU would mean negotiating individual postal agreements with 190 countries. The US withdrawal from the UPU gives the USPS 12 months to do that. Negotiating on our own rather than collectively with other countries would likely lead to higher export prices. It’s a logistical nightmare waiting to happen, and the USPS will bear the brunt of it. The USPS has been losing money delivering below-cost items from China, but it may get worse. They may lose the international business altogether to private delivery companies like FedEx and UPS. These private companies were influential in the White House’s decision to withdraw from the UPU. The private companies already have negotiated rates in place to take shares of the multi-billion dollar business. They stand to benefit at the expense of the United States Postal Service.

Trade War with China

Leaving the UPU may just be another threat in order to garner attention to an ongoing issue, the trade war with China.  The White House has been withdrawing the US from international agreements at an alarming rate. (NAFTA, The Trans-Pacific Partnership, The Iran deal, Treaty of Amity, The Paris Climate Accords, UNESCO, International Coffee Agreement, Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty …) New agreements have been made with small concessions, and newly established agreements are the same long standing agreements branded differently. Perhaps this will be another aggrandizing move that changes little or nothing, but there is a lot at stake.

One Year to Create New Postal Agreements

Withdrawing from the UPU will take a year. This is not enough time to create 190 bilateral postal agreements with all the countries of the world, but it is certainly enough time, along with our allies in the rest of the world, to negotiate fair terminal dues with China. Withdrawing from the UPU will only benefit a few large private delivery companies (UPS, FedEx, DHL.) The costs to US businesses that ship overseas, US consumers, and the USPS are too great to risk. The US is one of the founding members of the UPU, a union of nearly every country in the world that has benefited billions for 144 years. Leaving the UPU now has many unknown consequences, and it only stands to benefit a small amount of people. Diplomacy is the best solution for America. Along with our allies, we need to negotiate a better deal.

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UPU Postal Congress


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