U.S. Small Businesses Eagerly Await State Department and Universal Postal Union Talks Over International Postal Rates

By at 25 September, 2022, 9:32 pm


by Karen Kerrigan –

Next month, the U.S. State Department will enter into conversations with member nations of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) to discuss important international postal rate structures and frameworks. This is an important issue for America’s small businesses, as they depend heavily on smart mail delivery and logistics services to provide essential services, products and goods, employment, and charitable giving that touches the lives of so many.

In announcing the upcoming deliberations, UPU leadership indicated that, “UPU member countries have recognized that building a sustainable and inclusive postal network for communities and businesses worldwide requires collaboration with all parties.”  This idea speaks to the core values of the SBE Council. All qualified parties delivering postal items and providers of delivery services should have some form of representation within the UPU system.

Because postal rates and logistics expertise are vital to business operations and growth, we urge the State Department to acknowledge the U.S. small business community’s perspective – including that of SBE Council – on the current environment and how the outdated system hinders small business competitiveness and their customers. Such input will be important ahead of the upcoming Universal Postal Union Extraordinary Congress. SBE Council believes transparency, understanding, and inclusiveness are critical to the success of American businesses and the economy. The voice and views of small business owners and entrepreneurs are central to the current UPU discussion.

The existing international arrangement with the Universal Postal Union has negatively impacted millions of small businesses nationwide. The international postal rate system is not appropriately setup to meet the demands of today’s logistics market. As a result, small businesses in the United States pay a higher cost for domestic shipping than their foreign competitors to ship products to the United States. 

This inequitable shipping practice places American small businesses, their employees, local economies, and the American consumer at a disadvantage. A significant part of the problem with the UPU’s current system is what’s called “one nation, one vote.”

This rule outlines that each member nation, excluding private carriers, get one vote to amend any regulations before the Universal Postal Union. As more countries worldwide see private sector carriers become involved in delivering mail, these companies will take over the functions of postal services. Because of this, SBE Council believes that the UPU should be open to allowing the private providers to participate in the Universal Postal Union alongside state-sponsored postal systems.

We hope the State Department recognizes the importance of the task that lies ahead. Transparency and authentic inclusivity must be a priority as the State Department prepares for its upcoming negotiations with the Universal Postal Union. As advocates for America’s small business community, our organization believes the White House and State Department must be fully clear on the forthcoming actions they plan to take at the UPU’s Extraordinary Congress.  It is important to know how potential State Department and UPU decisions will impact American small businesses, which will affect American consumers. These issues must be addressed openly and before any actions are taken.

Unfortunately, American small businesses are in the dark about what lies ahead on this important matter. The White House needs to be transparent and responsive to our needs. Companies in the United States – both small and large – face an uncertain economic future, and possible UPU deliberations and actions could impact competitiveness and business sustainability. For consumers, the price of essential items could be affected by unfair and restricted competition among delivery services.

Businesses and consumers deserve access to a multitude of shipping and logistics providers in the global marketplace. U.S. stakeholders need to know how the State Department and the Universal Postal Union will shape the future of shipping in America. 

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


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