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The threat of withdrawal from the postal contract requires urgent negotiations



GENEVA – Emergency negotiations began on Tuesday after delegates from nearly 150 countries tried to prevent major disruptions to international postal services that could occur if President Trump withdraws from America of the United Nations, which has regulated mail services for more than a century.

The United States threatens to leave the Universal Postal Union body after October 17 if its members do not change the system of fees that postal services charge for collecting and delivering mail and small shipments.

Of particular concern to the Trump administration is the sliding scale of fees that allows China, the world's second largest economy, to benefit from the lower rates available to developing countries. Those fees, which have been in existence since 1

969, were modified and partially raised in 2016, but the administration says the changes have not gone far enough.

As a result, it remains cheaper for manufacturers in countries like China and Cambodia to ship a small package in the United States than it is for American business to transport them from Los Angeles to New York, according to Peter Navarro Mr Trump's trade adviser.

Bishar Hussein gave the Director-General of the Universal Postal Union the understanding that he believed that the withdrawal of the United States would be anything but smooth. it would mean "complete destruction" of

The United States will be excluded from services and will not be able to use existing international mail processing codes. Washington will also be forced to negotiate new agreements covering postal and customs services. services with the remaining 191 members to replace those that currently exist within the union, he said.

Its withdrawal will be a "nightmare scenario". for other countries that could not exchange mail, parcels, or parcels with the US Postal Service. For consumers, he said, withdrawing from the US will lead to large increases in postage.

US companies that depend on low-cost shipments as part of their business model, including e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and eBay, may be hampered. if the United States withdraws.

Democrats Abroad, a branch of the Democratic Party, raised concerns about the impact of about three million U.S. voters abroad. Her website warned that service interruptions would prevent those voters from sending their ballots or voting requests by standard mail.

As a result of the preparations made "during the Trump era" over the past year, Mr. Navarro has dismissed his fears.

"We have a very clear understanding of what we need to do. We have confidence that if we have to leave, it will be trouble-free, "he told reporters. "We foresee absolutely no interference with military mail, election mail, or holiday mail."

The repair of the postal system is being pushed against the backdrop of a trade battle between China and the United States. Mr Trump has called China an economic enemy and is looking for ways to prevent his economic domination. Mr Navarro said the issue of postal services was completely separate from the wider commercial dispute.

Resolution may still occur. Mr Navarro outlined two options that would allow the US to remain in the Union. Washington's preferred approach is to switch immediately to self-declared rates, which will allow countries to unilaterally decide what to charge. This would cause short-term disruption, he acknowledged at the meeting, but "this is the clearest, purest, fairest and fastest path to reform, which is long overdue."

This proposal is also supported by Canada and Brazil. but was voted in a secret ballot on Tuesday, focusing the meeting on another option.

This option, which Mr Navarro said was widely acceptable to Washington, would allow the US to introduce new rates immediately and leave a five-year transition period starting in 2020 for other countries to introduce a new fee schedule.

n. Navarro said such a plan "already represents a very significant compromise for the United States."

Another option, open to the meeting and supported by China, among other things, would preserve the status quo with some modest correction.

n. Navarro dismissed this option as a "cynical non-standard" that would cause the US to withdraw.

USA. The Chamber of Commerce welcomes the prospect of reform in the postal system.

The Universal Postal Union "should not be concerned with pricing or establishing preferential customs practices," Sean Heather, senior vice president of international regulatory affairs, said in an email. Directing the United States and other countries on the path to setting their own rates is "important to ensure that US exporters compete on equal terms when sending to foreign markets."

Hussein, despite his fears of major disruption to global postal services, hoped that the Universal Postal Union would do well at least. He had withstood two world wars and adapted to meet the consistent challenges of emerging technology, he told reporters, and "I don't believe we will disappear that way."

Others were not so sanguine. If the US withdraws from the union, a delegate from Moldova noted, "I think this is the beginning of the end of the union."

Anna Swanson gave a report from Washington.


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