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Bishar A. Hussein, the Director General of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), signalled in his opening address at the UPU’s High Level Forum last week that the agency was open to more input from the private sector.

Hussein acknowledged that the postal sector needed to remain “competitive, innovative and prosperous” as it was transformed by privatisation and global e-commerce.

“We are open to dialogue,” he told delegates that included representatives from parcel delivery companies. “This forum is a key milestone in our history, and I am here today to listen, to take note and to benefit from your experiences.”

Universal Postal Union “open to dialogue” with private sector
Credit: Oleg Magni

The UPU is a branch of the United Nations that co-ordinates mail service policies among its 192 participating nations. It sets the rules for international mail exchanges, including “terminal dues”, the rates that foreign shippers must pay to the designated domestic postal operators of any country—for example, Royal Mail, Deutsche Post, or the United States Postal Service.

In 2018, the United States threatened to withdraw from the agency, on the basis that certain nations received unfair subsidies at the US’ expense. However, an agreement was reached whereby the US could start setting its own postal fees, in return for $40 million funding of the UPU over five years.

The UPU also ensures that all citizens of member nations have access to the same basic level of service, under the Universal Service Obligation (USO).

Hussein announced that a task force had been set up to improve private sector engagement and bring on board new commercial players, while remaining committed to the USO, with a strategy for the next four years to be agreed by member countries in the summer.

Source: Post & Parcel

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