Trump Demands an International Mailing System to Better Benefit USPS and U.S. Mailers

Postal oversight commission agrees that interagency intervention is required.

President Trump has demanded that the U.S. government charge foreign countries a higher rate for international shipping, stating in a presidential memorandum that other nations are unfairly receiving cheaper rates than postal customers sending packages domestically.

Trump said the changes should take shape at a meeting of the Universal Postal Union in September, when all postal entities across the world will meet in Ethiopia. The president tasked State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo with leading a delegation at the conference to increase the “terminal dues”—or the rates determined by the UPU that foreign mailers pay to a postal operator in the country of destination to cover all related costs of shipping that package—so they charge higher rates to the country of origin sending mail and small packages.

The UPU was established in 1874 and is an agency of the United Nations. Trump's memo applies to packages weighing less than 4.4 pounds.

Foreign countries are not fully reimbursing the Postal Service for mail they are sending into the United States, Trump said in the memo. The UPU as currently constructed has created “substantial preferences for foreign mailers relative to domestic mailers,” the president said. It has also disadvantaged private sector companies looking to offer international shipping services, according to Trump, and has failed to properly distinguish between “documents” and “goods.”

“The current system of terminal dues distorts the flow of small packages around the world by incentivizing the shipping of goods from foreign countries that benefit from artificially low reimbursement rates,” Trump said.

The Postal Regulatory Commission, the independent agency with oversight of the Postal Service and its rate setting, agreed with the president’s conclusions and said the government has raised concerns about the UPU since the Reagan administration.

“The UPU continues to promulgate agreements that require posts to undercharge for delivery of inbound mail, to insulate postal shipments from full application of national customs laws, and to promote a different legal regime for postal operators and competing private carriers,” said Robert Taub, the PRC’s chairman. “President Trump’s memorandum represents an enormous leap forward to finally addressing these problems on behalf of our fellow Americans—particularly U.S. merchants, U.S. mailers, and U.S. private-sector carriers who are trying to compete fairly in these global markets.”

The Postal Service itself also praised the memo, saying in a statement that it would like to see a "fair" international postal system since the agency does not set the UPU rates but is bound by them. 

"The Postal Service stands ready to support the State Department, the lead representative of the United States in the UPU Universal Postal Union, and to do our part to give effect to the presidential memorandum," USPS said. 

Trump instructed Pompeo to assess the progress made after the UPU conference and by Nov. 1 issue new steps for making the international pricing fairer if imbalances still exist. The president vowed to take “any appropriate actions” to ensure all expenses are recovered and the system if evened out for all participants.

Heather Nauert, a State spokeswoman, said the memo represented “bold actions” to end practices that “undermine American economic prosperity and threaten” national security.

'This Is a Big Deal'

The U.S. delegation in Ethiopia will “follow through on the President’s directive to make clear that UPU rates of postal reimbursement are unfair to United States merchants, mailers and businesses,” Nauert said. “The delegation will also take steps to update unfair rates of reimbursement and ensure that all UPU member nations take action to furnish advance electronic customs data to facilitate the detection of shipments of opioids and other illicit materials.”

She added the U.S. “looks forward to working with other UPU members to accomplish these goals.”

Paul Steidler, a senior fellow at the libertarian-leaning Lexington Institute, praised the memo as beneficial to American businesses. 

"This is a big deal, especially for American entrepreneurial e-commerce companies," Steidler said. "Hard as it is to believe, it's far less expensive to send a small package from China to the United States than to send that same package a short distance within the U.S." He added that Trump made a simple request: "to have fair and nondiscriminatory postal rates." 

Mike Plunkett, a former USPS vice president and current president of PostCom, an association of large-scale private sector mailers, said Trump's memo is likely to create winners and losers. Virtually no American businesses would be harmed by higher rates for international shippers sending packages into the U.S., he said, but foreign countries could take retaliatory steps if the Trump administration attempts to unilaterally institute a new system. 

It is unclear, Plunkett said, "exactly how other countries would react."

The memo also called on State’s UPU delegation to boost the use of “advanced electronic data” that customs officers use to screen foreign packages for illicit materials, including the recent influx of synthetic opioids. Trump previously set the goal of receiving such data for 90 percent of all foreign shipments, and momentum has built in Congress for legislation to require the information in all cases. Customs and Border Protection currently only receives the data for about 40 percent of international packages.

The memo was the second executive action Trump has taken with regard to the Postal Service. A task force he created earlier this year to put USPS on firmer financial footing has delivered its recommendations to the president, but that report has yet to be made public.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.