The likes of Amazon and eBay can breathe a sigh of relief as the U.S. reneged on a threat to leave a global postal body, which would have resulted in higher delivery costs for online retailers.
U.S. officials struck a last-minute deal to remain in the Geneva-based Universal Postal Union, a U.N. body that is far from a household name, but has an important impact on consumers as it sets the rates that countries charge each other for mail delivery.
Its beef with the organization centered around the favorable rates China has to send international bulky letters and small packets because it is still considered a developing nation.
The U.S. argued that in many cases it and other countries are not fully reimbursed by the foreign postal operator for the cost of delivering foreign-origin letter post items, which can result in substantial preferences for foreign mailers relative to domestic ones.
It had threatened to quit the 145-year-old organization next month, but at an emergency meeting in Geneva all sides agreed to change the ways postal fees are structured, allowing the U.S. to set its own rates.
This will no doubt come as good news for companies like eBay and Amazon, which rely on low-cost shipments. A U.S. exit would have likely meant shipping costs would have increased, weighing on shoppers who have become accustomed to accessing foreign goods at a low cost as the holidays fast approach.
“EBay applauds the United States and numerous members of the Universal Postal Union for coming together on an agreement and avoiding disruptions to the global mail system for small businesses and consumers,” a spokesperson said. “The agreement comes at a critical time when shippers need stability ahead of the upcoming holiday season.”
Prior to the deal, it had warned that “if the U.S. moves forward with this withdrawal plan, it could mean big trouble for anyone who sends or receives mail or packages internationally.”
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