Beijing ‘regrets’ US leaving postal union treaty amid trade dispute

Kenny Grant
October 19, 2018

A senior White House official said the State Department formally notified the Universal Postal Union, a coalition of 193 countries, that the USA intends to withdraw from the pact within 12 months if the administration can't negotiate more favorable shipping rates.

The treaty sets limits for charges on parcels under 2kg (4.4lbs) but the U.S. would like to change the treaty to allow countries to set their own rates for these smaller parcels, as they can for packages over that weight limit, officials said. Officials said they hope the notice of withdrawal will set the stage to agree a better deal.

"We expect it to have a major impact on the counterfeiting and some impact on the narcotics", one official said.

"Trump is taking the right approach, by waiting for China to enter a truce on trade war talks", the CCTV editor suggested.

Jay Timmons, the president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said in a statement that he agreed with the move.

The Trump administration's "National Security Strategy" released last December branded Russian Federation and China as "revisionist powers" that threatened the global order dominated by the U.S., and declared that "great power competition" not "the war on terror" was now the United States priority.

And the evidence he quotes to support his "insufficient ammunition theory" is rather simple: China levied additional tariffs on goods worth $53.1 billion from the U.S., while the USA levied additional tariffs on goods worth $200 billion.

The decision to remove the United States 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 United States trade deficit with the country.

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Current shipping rates will continue in force as it takes a year for a country to withdraw from the agreement.

China has stopped buying U.S. crude and liquefied natural gas (LNG) in response to Donald Trump's decision to impose a third round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

UPU Director General Bishar Hussein said in a statement Wednesday that he "regrets the decision" and welcomed the opportunity to talk further with USA officials.

Trump administration officials say the leg up, granted under a 1969 provision, was meant to promote growth in poor countries.

A Chinese government official, who declined to be named, said that the timing of the proposed meeting worked well for both leaders as by late November they would have settled their domestic agendas.

Peter Navarro, Trump's uber-protectionist and anti-China adviser, attacked the UPU as part of a Financial Times op-ed in September.

A statement from the White House press secretary issued October 17 said that the Department of State has recommended the United States "adopt self-declared rates for terminal dues as soon as practical, and no later than January 1, 2020". The BBC reports the withdraw of this treaty will increase shipping costs from China by between 40% and 70%.

"So, it's hard for them to do a deal, because they've had it so good for so long; it's a very hard thing for them to do", said the USA president when asked why he told the Chinese that they are not ready for a trade deal yet.

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