April 27, 2018

Cassidy Demands to See Secret International Shipping Rates

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), is demanding the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) turn over information about the international shipping rates set by the U.N.’s Universal Postal Union. The U.S. Postal Service has sought to keep the rates secret.

The rates greatly favor countries like China, allowing Chinese businesses to mail items to the U.S. at a lower cost than American businesses in the U.S. This unfair advantage hurts American entrepreneurs and workers, Cassidy states in his letter to PRC Chairman Robert Taub.

On April 10, Cassidy introduced legislation to save U.S. taxpayers from having to subsidize international postal shipments from foreign countries to the United States.

The full text of Cassidy’s letter is below.

A Dear Chairman Taub:

As you are aware, the United States has an international agreement through the United Nations with a postal governance entity called the Universal Postal Union (UPU). The UPU makes postal arrangements with 191 other nations to ensure a working global postal system.

A functional postal system is important, and it is vital to our national economic health that these agreements are made with Americans’ best interests in mind. In a global economy with increasing international trade, our foreign agreements greatly affect American businesses, and flawed agreements can mean the difference between their success or failure. When foreign businesses enjoy discounted postal rates on goods they ship to the U.S., American entrepreneurs are put at a disadvantage. There is no more obvious example of the unfair disadvantage American businesses face than the terminal dues payments the UPU requires of the U.S.

On January 12, 2018, the U.S. Postal Service released under seal the inbound letter post revenue data by country group and shape (terminal dues data) in response to your request. We are writing to request that you present the terminal dues data to our offices, unsealed.

We understand that the Postal Service has submitted an application for non-treatment stating this information could give “indications of non-public volume information of UPU Designated Operators.” This is the extent of the explanation from Docket No. ACR2017, Notice of the U.S. Postal Service of Filing of USPS-FY17-NP21 and Application for Nonpublic Treatment (January 12, 2018), which is attached to this letter for your reference. Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of Congress to conduct oversight of agencies such as the Postal Service.

Members of Congress have an increased interest in the current terminal dues arrangement with the UPU, the financial losses inbound international mail inflicts on the Postal Service, and the disadvantage it places on Americans competing in the global marketplace. The lack of transparency regarding terminal dues data is concerning. I look forward to your prompt response and to receiving the relevant data.