The Trump administration has announced that it will be withdrawing the country from the Universal Postal Union, an agency within the United Nations that originated with a treaty signed in 1874.
The UPU sets “terminal dues”, the rates that foreign shippers pay to the domestic postal operator of any country—for example, the United States Postal Service.
Last month, an interagency contingency from the US attended a UPU meeting to negotiate a new pricing structure in which other countries are charged higher rates by the US for international shipping when compared to domestic rates.
“The current system of terminal dues distorts the flow of small packages around the world by incentivizing the shipping of goods from foreign countries that benefit from artificially low reimbursement rates,” the Trump administration said.
In its “letter of denunciation” last week, the administration claimed that countries such as China, Singapore, France and Germany receive a 40-70% discount on packages weighing up to 4.4 pounds, which has to be subsidised by the US.
Credit: Florian Hahn
After making no headway with negotiations, the government announced that it will be withdrawing from the UPU and setting its own rates for small packages over the next several months.
The withdrawal follows a pattern of protectionist and anti-internationalist policies by the Trump administration, including withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade war with China, and similar tariffs imposed on imports from the EU, Mexico and Canada.
Trump also launched an investigation into USPS, after the President criticised its “unstable financial path” and blamed deals made with companies such as Amazon.
Regarding the withdrawal from the UPU, USPS and its governors have said that they “fully support the administration’s decision”.