The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Leaving the Universal Postal Union is the wrong move for the United States

Packages travel on a conveyor belt for sorting at a post office in Omaha. (Nati Harnik/AP)

The Oct. 29 editorial “We’ve got mail” agreed with the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Universal Postal Union but failed to consider the wider implications, which go well beyond terminal dues. The UPU sets standards for the global postal network, including for operations, automated payment systems, containerization and dangerous goods. As the UPU director general noted, the United States would lose access to global processing systems that make international mail possible. As an association that represents primarily U.S.-based outbound shippers, we have members who are concerned that export prices will increase. And uncertainty around rates and operational changes dampens exports because businesses don’t know what to plan for.

Finally, withdrawing from the UPU could prove harmful to the United States’ goal of collecting advance electronic data on inbound shipments from foreign posts; the recent opioid legislation requires it on 100 percent of packages by 2021. An efficient global standard must be developed to support effective data transfer among the 192 postal administrations and their respective and distinct customs authorities. The UPU system provides the best framework to achieve that standard.

As an organization, we agree that U.S. Postal Service delivery costs should be covered by a fair remuneration mechanism, especially to accommodate the e-commerce explosion from markets such as China. However, we urge policymakers to consider the broader implications of withdrawing from the UPU.

Kate Muth, Arlington

The writer is executive director of the International Mailers Advisory Group.