International Postal Update – August 2012August 27, 2012
UPU DOHA CONGRESS IN SEPTEMBER
The Doha Congress of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) is set to convene in Qatar in late September. The full Congress, with representatives from 192 member countries, meets every four years.
Among the most significant items to be voted on will be the proposed adoption of minimum security standards for international mail. A slate of recommended security standards was approved by the UPU in 2008, but carried no obligation for implementation or enforcement by member countries.
A second prominent item of business will be the realignment of terminal dues (payments between countries for international mail traffic).
Responsibility for directing U.S. international postal policies was assigned to the U.S. Department of State by Congress in 2006. Members of an official Advisory Committee on International Postal and Delivery Service, convened by the State Department, have persistently urged leaders of the U.S. delegation to pursue a more procompetitive agenda at the UPU. Their concerns have largely focused on efforts to address and resolve unjustified competitive advantages that currently benefit national posts at the expense of private-sector providers.
Two preeminent priorities in the U.S. Strategic Plan heading into the Doha Congress include advancing a clear distinction and separation between governmental and operational responsibilities by the UPU and better aligning terminal dues with costs as well as subsidized postage rates in many countries.
GERMAN POSTAL REGULATOR SEEKS NEW BULK MAIL AUTHORITY
Germany’s postal regulator is seeking additional powers, and draft legislation expected to be considered this Fall would strengthen its authority to limit Deutsche Post in the name of increased competition. The proposal’s supporters include Economic Minister Philipp Roesler.
Federal Network Agency officials have expressed concern publicly over pricing for bulk mail. In July, Germany’s Monopolies Commission added its support to recommendations by which regulators would review and approve bulk mail contracts in advance, with increased investigative powers. The new authority would allow the regulator to more effectively exert price controls to promote competition and prevent “abusive behavior.” The main trade association representing the German courier industry also called for the Bundestag to adopt such changes to boost competition.
Deutsche Post maintains a dominant market share of the German letter-mail market estimated at between 80 and 90 percent. A spokesman for the company asserted that the regulator already has adequate tools to ensure competition.
RUSSIAN POSTAL REFORM IN THE WORKS THIS FALL?
A new, national strategy for modernizing Russian Post is expected to be introduced to the State Duma later this year, said Russian Deputy Communications Minister Denis Sverlov in late July. Sverlov called the quality of service currently provided by Russia Post “unsatisfactory.”
Also in July, Italian logistics leader Finmeccanica, along with the leaders of Russian Post and Poste Italiane, announced a major contract to develop and modernize the Russian Post network. The contract includes upgrading technology across post offices, optimizing its logistics network, and introducing new digital services. The announcement described using Italian expertise to identify new business opportunities, possibly including e-commerce, telephony and new commercial service offerings. Finmeccanica’s subsidiary SELEX Elsag has operated in Russia since the early 1990s, providing automated postal, mailsorting and logistics services.