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New Universal Postal Union Agreement Avoids U.S. Withdrawal

In October of 2018 the U.S. served notice that they would leave the Universal Postal Union. The Universal Postal Union (UPU) held an Extraordinary Conference between September 24-26, 2019 and reached an agreement and averted the exit of the U.S. It was only the third time that the 145-year-old Universal Postal Union had convened an Extraordinary Conference.

“This is a landmark decision for multilateralism and the Union. The Geneva Extraordinary Congress has shown that 192 countries can reach solutions on complex issues by acclamation.”

Siva Somasundram
UPU Director for Policy, Regulation and Markets

What is the Universal Postal Union?

The Universal Postal Union is a U.N. organization that sets regulations for postage between member nations. In the past, part of that mandate meant subsidizing developing countries’ postage to allow them access to developed markets.

What are the updates?

Under the agreed solution, member countries that meet certain requirements (including inbound letter-post volumes greater than 75,000 metric tons based on 2018 data) would be able to opt-in to self-declare their rates. This will begin in July 1, 2020, with the U.S. first in line. Eventually all members of the UPU will have the opportunity to self-declare their terminal dues if they choose to beginning in January 2021.

Overall this solution still protects developing countries with low mail volume from negative impacts and provides a means for the U.S. to increase postal reimbursement for high-volume countries like China.

Typically USPS increase rates every year in January and it hasn’t been determined if additional increases will apply due to these changes. However they be lumped in with the annual increase. Chit Chats will be monitoring this closely and be sure to update our clients as we learn more.