Trump to withdraw U.S. from global postal treaty

19 Octobre, 2018, 14:59 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • United States Postal Service and other mail outside a home

One-dollar yoga trousers.

Over a year and a half ago, Donald Trump pulled the USA out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation multilateral deal with many countries in China's neighborhood that was specifically designed, in part, to provide an alternative market to China. The shipping rates under the treaty are based on weight, not value.

The decision to remove the U.S. from the treaty represents another strike at China in the ongoing trade war, as the Trump administration attempts to force the country to make major economic changes and reduce the USA trade deficit with the country. The Universal Postal Union sets rates that national postal services charge for shipping small parcels to other countries.

The manufacturers association boss had sent a letter in April to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin complaining that the UPU system allows China to receive increasing subsidies from the U.S. Postal Service, which it says cost the USPS $170 million previous year.

He believes that Trump "will keep raising the stakes until Chinese President Xi Jinping makes a phone call to Trump and asks him how to resolve it so they can both sign a win-win trade deal". He also provocatively suggested that the USA could back "more exploitation of mineral resources in the South China Sea with or without Chinese cooperation".

On Thursday, hundreds of EBay sellers from China advertised women's workout leggings, including ones for little as 76 cents that could be purchased instantly. The UPU was established in 1874 and has 192 member countries.

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State Department officials were expected Wednesday to inform officials at the Universal Postal Union in Bern, Switzerland, a United Nations branch that administers the treaty, of their intention to pull out of the system and "self-declare" new, higher rates on China, a US official said. The result could be an increase in prices on many household goods, consumer electronics, and clothing if a new rate schedule is not agreed upon. That business, enabled by platforms such as Amazon, EBay and Alibaba, is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020. Neither company had responded to Sixth Tone's request for comment by time of publication. Alibaba rival JD.com Inc.'s logistics arm said it was looking into the potential impact.

They argued that the treaty allows foreign postal services, especially in China but also in Germany, to take advantage of cheap shipments to the US.

American leaders and scholars alike continued to express concerns over Beijing's ever-growing expenditure on military modernization in the absence of palpable threats, lack of transparency in its military strategy, hegemonic policies in the South China Sea and maintenance of special relationships with "rogue" regimes in Sudan, Iran and North Korea. The difference may not seem like a lot, but added up over millions of low-priced consumer items, its effect has been a disadvantage for American retailers on e-commerce portals.

Secondly, in order for the Post Office to make up the losses on these foreign packages, it also raises the rates on Americans who want to send foreign packages overseas, and that hurts America's exporters. It's an even bigger gap for a 4.4-pound package: "The US mailer pays about $20 to $23 while the Chinese mailers pay just $5", the official added. Trump had threatened to impose tariffs on the remaining $267 billion of Chinese imports if there was any further retaliation by China.

American companies have cheered Trump's plan to withdraw.

"Manufacturers and manufacturing workers in the United States will greatly benefit from a modernized and far more fair arrangement with China", said National Association of Manufacturers President Jay Timmons. Over the one-year notice period, the State Department will try to negotiate better rates for Americans or choose to walk away from the global body in 2020, the Washington Post reports.

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