By Agence France-Presse
The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it plans to withdraw from an international treaty on postal rates in another move aimed at pressuring China amid broader trade and political disputes.
The United States intends to exit the system of setting postal rates for smaller packages under the Universal Postal Union “as soon as practical” and no later than Jan. 1, 2020, said a statement released by the White House press secretary.
The United States will also file notice formally withdrawing from the union, which dates to 1874, the statement added.
The UPU, which comprises 192 countries, sets lower prices for small packages coming from emerging and developing countries, a group that still includes China.
The UPU, which is based in Berne, Switzerland, confirmed that it received official notice of the US plans.
UPU Director General Bishar Hussein “regrets” the decision and will seek to meet with US representatives to “further discuss the matter,” the UPU said in a press release.
“The UPU remains committed to attainment of the noble aims of international collaboration by working with all its 192 member countries to ensure that the treaty best serves everyone,” Hussein said.
The Trump administration’s decision to exit the agreement was pushed by White House advisor Peter Navarro, according to The New York Times. Navarro has encouraged Trump to crack down on China on a variety of trade and political questions that he has argued are disadvantaging the US at China’s expense.
In August, a White House memorandum to the Secretary of State and other top officials said that under the UPU, the US is often “not fully reimbursed by the foreign postal operator” for delivering foreign-origin items “which can result in substantial preferences for foreign mailers relative to domestic mailers.”
Under Wednesday’s announcement, the US State Department will seek new bilateral and multilateral agreements that address Trump’s criticism.
“If negotiations are successful, the Administration is prepared to rescind the notice of withdrawal and remain in the UPU,” the statement added.