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Mail service threatened by international trade talks

Posted at 5:45 AM, Sep 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-25 10:26:58-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Any letter or small package shipped to or from the United States to other countries is regulated by the Universal Postal Union, an international body comprised of 192 member nations.

The United States has threatened to leave the UPU in October if they don't adjust postage reimbursement fees at an emergency meeting in Geneva, Switzerland happening this week.

13 Action News Financial Specialist Steven Budin said the current system allows under-developed countries, including China, to pay less than the United States for international postal shipping.

The U.S. has been trying to force the UPU to level the playing field, or allow the United States to set their own postal reimbursement rates with individual nations.

"It's an America first policy," Budin said.

Puling out of the UPU could disrupt or even end postal service to the other 191 nations, at least temporarily, until the United States could form a bilateral agreement with each nation.

"If the U.S. pulls out of this agreement, it could be chaos," Budin said, "imagine being a business owner and having to ship packages to 192 different countries with 192 different postal rates."

That disruption could come just before the holiday shopping season begins.

Online, eBay encouraged its sellers to pressure the Trump administration to stay in the UPU with a statement reading in part, If the US withdraws, small businesses that sell online to customers around the world could see service disruptions and dramatically increased costs for shipping through the US Postal Service..."

"It throws a lot of uncertainty into the equation," Budin said.

On the other hand, Budin said if the U.S. can make a deal that levels the postal playing field then it could benefit U.S. businesses competing in a global market.

"If you're shipping, and you can't compete with the Asian firm on shipping costs, it puts you at a competitive disadvantage," Budin said.

UPU members rejected the United State's first proposal Monday, according to the Associated Press.

The U.S. has promised to leave the UPU by October if a deal isn't reached by the end of the conference Wednesday.