UN Postal Union Member Countries Reach Unanimous Agreement on Postal Remuneration Rates

 

This is a follow-up to our post U.S. Withdrawal From U.N. Postal Union Will Interrupt/Eliminate U.S. Diplomatic Post Office Deliveries.  The Universal Postal Union is a UN specialized agency with its headquarters in the Swiss capital Berne. Established in 1874, it is one of the world’s oldest international organizations and is the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players.

On September 25, UN/UPU announced that its member countries have reached an agreement on international remuneration rates on the second day of the Geneva meeting. This agreement 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 starting as soon as 2020. Excerpt below:

Under the agreed solution, member countries that meet certain requirements – including inbound letter-post volumes in excess of 75,000 metric tons based on 2018 data – would be able to opt-in to self-declare their rates starting 1 July 2020.

The decision also includes thresholds 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 they 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.

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U.S. Withdrawal From U.N. Postal Union Will Interrupt/Eliminate U.S. Diplomatic Post Office Deliveries

 

Via afsa.org:
On October 17, 2018, the Trump Administration announced that the U.S. was starting the one-year withdrawal process from the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a 145-year-old United Nations organization that regulates global mail delivery. The UPU will meet in late September to consider changes to the organization’s rules and rate structures. The Administration has said that it will remain in the organization if certain changes are adopted. Because the U.S. is required to give one year’s notice before withdrawal, the U.S. could depart as early as mid-October if it decides to do so. 
Should the U.S go through with the withdrawal, the Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) will experience—at best—significant interruption, if not outright elimination while the U.S. would have to negotiate new bilateral postal service agreements with other countries. While pouch deliveries will not be affected, DPO deliveries for any Foreign Service personnel at post will likely be impacted. The potential ramifications are obvious to all members of the Foreign Service, particularly when it comes to delivery of medical supplies and medications.
AFSA has raised the possible negative effects of withdrawal on Foreign Service families with senior officials in HR and has been working with the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), which is the military equivalent of AFSA, as APO services may be affected as well. While the legal authority to withdraw from the UPU lies with the executive branch, AFSA is also warning Congress of the negative implications DPO interruption or elimination would bring our diplomats.
The A Bureau is well aware of this problem and has been working to mitigate possible challenges and seek alternative solutions. AFSA advises all members to read the recent ALDAC on this issue (19 STATE 76584), as well as any embassy-issued management notices.
AFSA will keep following this and will update members if and when needed. In the meantime, please heed the guidance from the Department of State: Plan to make bulk purchases or crucial supplies early so that your deliveries will reach you before mid-October.  

 

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