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Work Group 3 Document -- Reform of the Universal Postal Union in Light of Changing Market Conditions


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In the last two decades, fundamental changes have taken place, and are continuing to unfold, in international postal services and other international delivery services. These changes include the continuing liberalization of postal services, the increasing exposure of international postal services to competition, the new relationships emerging between public and private delivery operators, and the opening of domestic markets to foreign service suppliers.

 

The workgroup believes that there is an urgent need to develop fundamental revisions in the international legal framework for international postal services and other international delivery services and that such measures should be ready for adoption by member countries by the next general congress of the Universal Postal Union in 2012. Among the most urgent revisions are measures that will make clear that financial services provided by public postal operators must comply with international standards relating to financial stability and anti-money laundering.

It is recommended that these new measures should be fully consistent with the following basic principles and objectives:

1. The governmental mission of the Union and the goal of a single postal territory should be defined as the promotion and encouragement of the exchange of physical documents and parcels among peoples of the world for cultural, social, and economic purposes by means of the activities of all international postal services and other international delivery services. The Union should promote and encourage unrestricted and undistorted competition in the provision of such services, except where specifically reserved to a public postal operator by national law.

2. The governmental functions of the Union should not be enlisted to promote or regulate
the activities of international postal services and other international delivery services which do not involve the exchange of physical documents and parcels. When providing services unrelated to the exchange of physical documents and parcels providers of international postal services and/or other international delivery services should abide by the same rules and regulations, and be subject to the same supervision and oversight, as other providers of such unrelated services.

3. The governmental and operational roles and responsibilities of the Union and its bodies — and the roles of the administrative support staff — should be clarified, distinguished, and reorganized in a manner that enforces a clear distinction between governmental functions, on the one hand, and operational activities, on the other hand. Approaches that should be seriously considered include models one and two of the 28 June 2000 discussion paper of the Subgroup 2 of the High Level Group on the Future Development of the UPU (CA HLG SG2 2000.3 - Doc3).

4. The system of financing Union activities should reflect the clear distinction between governmental and operational responsibilities set out above.

5. The Union should work with the World Customs Organization to develop, as soon as possible, customs procedures which are applicable in the same manner to similar shipments when conveyed by international postal services and other international delivery services, while maintaining, where appropriate, distinctions in the customs treatment of commercial and non-commercial shipments.

6. The Union should adopt no measures which create an undue or unreasonable preference in favor of any international postal service or other international delivery service with respect to any activities which may be lawfully provided by more than one service provider.

7. The Union should refrain from policies that may undermine the international financial services regulatory infrastructure (FSB, BIS, IOSCO, IAIS).

8. The revisions and clarifications of the Acts of the Union called for above should in no respect prejudice the right of any nation (A) to define and ensure a universal postal service suited to the needs of its people and (B) to define and enforce a public monopoly over basic letter post services for the purpose of supporting such universal postal service.

Workgroup 3 therefore calls upon all member countries to formulate proposals for the reform and reorganization of the Union based on the principles described above, so that they may be ready for submission to the 2012 Congress for approval.

Explanatory notes

The foregoing statement of position reflects the principles of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (in particular, section 407) adopted by the U.S. Congress in 2006. In addition, the statement draws inspiration from reform proposals introduced by the United States and other nations in the 1999 Beijing Congress and from the work of the UPU's High Level Group following the Beijing Congress.

Paragraph 1 recognizes that the fundamental reality of the changing global marketplace. Today, physical documents and parcels are being conveyed between nations by many types of providers of international postal services and other international delivery services and combinations of such operators. The international legal framework should facilitate the international exchange of physical documents and parcels without drawing distinctions based on the ownership, nationality, or legal status (e.g., governmental "designation") of such operators.

Paragraph 2 makes clear that the governmental functions of the Union should not promote or regulate activities outside the scope of what is required to facilitate the exchange of physical documents and parcels internationally.

Paragraph 3 emphasizes the need for a clear and complete separation of the governmental and operational roles and responsibilities of the bodies of the Union and its administrative staff. While the governmental mission of the Union should be limited as set out in paragraph 2, the operational and commercial work of the Union may continue — through institutions established either within the Union or outside the Union —to support other activities of international postal services and other international delivery services, provided that such support is consistent with the separation of governmental and operational roles and responsibilities and not contrary to national laws regulating commerce.

Paragraph 4 makes clear that the system of financing the Union should conform to the separation of governmental and operational functions.

Paragraph 5 emphasizes the need for providing the same customs treatment for similar items when conveyed by all international postal services and other international delivery services. Customs treatment should not vary with the ownership, nationality, or legal status (e.g., governmental "designation") of the operators. However, paragraph 5 recognizes that governments may consider it appropriate to provide simplified customs treatment for noncommercial items.

Paragraph 6 provides generally that the Union should not adopt any measure which could create an undue or unreasonable preference in favor of any international postal service or other international delivery service where there is the possibility of lawful competition.

Paragraph 7 emphasizes that the United States is very concerned that the Union should refrain from policies that may undermine the international financial services regulatory infrastructure. Indeed, where appropriate, the Union should encourage member governments to eliminate subsidies or other measures that may create undue or unreasonable preferences or advantages for financial services provided by government-owned postal operators.

Paragraph 8 makes clear that these principles are not intended to infringe on the sovereign right of a nation to ensure a universal postal service for its citizens or establish a postal monopoly covering basic letter post services for the purpose of supporting such universal postal service.

Workgroup 3 believes these principles should be incorporated in the acts of the congress of the Union to be held in 2012. The final paragraph therefore calls upon all member countries to formulate specific proposals consistent with these principles.

Appended Items:

1) 39 U.S.C. sec. 407, the international policy provision added by the PAEA in2006, and relevant excerpts from the Congressional committee reports.

2) Proposal 33 offered by the United States in the 1999 Beijing Congress of the UPU.

3) CA HLG SG2 2000.3 - Doc3, a description of models for reorganizing the Union developed by a committee of the UPU's High Level Group in 2000.



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