The Universal Postal Union, a body of the United Nations since 1948, allows developing countries to pay cheaper rates when shipping packages internationally, often putting some of the cost of delivering packages on the postal services of wealthier countries. The policy was initially intended to spur economic growth in poorer countries by connecting them with global markets.But now that some of those countries have become exporting giants, the administration hopes to use its withdrawal as leverage to negotiate more favorable terms for historically wealthy countries like the United States. A senior administration official said the administration would prefer to stay within the union and that a full withdrawal takes a year to implement and that he hopes the U.S. can negotiate more favorable terms within that time frame.. . . A senior White House official said Wednesday that the administration is working in “Trump time” to expediently implement rates that fully cover the cost of shipping for international packages once in the United States. He said the U.S. could be setting its own rates as soon as six months from now.
- The Trump administration is not completely nuts on this issue; and
- It will nonetheless be very likely to bungle this attempt at coercive bargaining.
Lower costs for developing economies mean Chinese retailers can sell small goods such as phone chargers in the US for less than domestic retailers can. The price for a 4.4lb package shipped from one US state to another is $19-$23, while China Post pays $5 to ship it anywhere in the US, according to the US Postal Service. It lost more than $135m handling imports from across the world in 2016.
Efforts to push for self-determination of rates were not well received at the Ethiopia meeting, a senior White House official said, and the administration will now begin a regulatory process to accomplish that on its own outside of the UPU.“We were rebuffed there,” the senior official said. “Everyone was aware that if we were rebuffed we would move forward. We didn’t get fairness so this administration is taking unilateral action.”Officials said they expected the U.S. government to start setting its own rates for small packages within the next six months to one year.. . . “We would prefer to stay within the UPU,” a senior White House official said, noting, “It does provide some benefits.” The official added the UPU assists with the war on illicit drug trafficking, and the administration is working to maintain its access to advance electronic data whether or not it withdraws from the organization.