US to exit global postal treaty in latest move against China

US Postal worker delivers mail packages outside of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on October 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by AFP)

The United States will begin withdrawing from a UN postal pact that lowers rates for foreign postal deliveries of small packages, the latest move by President Donald Trump's administration to challenge practices it sees as unfairly advantageous to China.

The White House said on Wednesday it will withdraw from the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a Switzerland-based United Nations organization that connects postal services worldwide.

The White House said the UPU enables foreign postal services to take advantage of cheap shipments to the United States, creating an unfair cost advantage over US companies that ship goods, and hurting the income of the US Postal Service.

UPU sets shipping rates for international mail in a way that offers lower prices for shipments from developing economies and higher rates for those from advanced economies. 

An administration official said the American business community, including the US Chamber of Commerce, had previously advocated for changing the postal set up, sending letters to the administration to end the "economic distortion" created by current postal rules.

Sean Heather, vice president of the US Chamber's Center for Global Regulatory Cooperation, also applauded the Trump administration for using the withdrawal as a bargaining chip to further negotiation.

"Negotiating a fair deal on a bilateral basis that reflects the costs to deliver packages is exactly what is needed," Heather said. "The Chamber looks forward to supporting these bilateral negotiations.”

The move represents the latest swipe by the Trump administration at Beijing in the ongoing trade war between the two countries.

Trump is being advertised in the US as the most anti-China president the country has ever seen.  

Trump is moving deliberately to counter what the White House views as years of unchecked Chinese aggression, signaling a new and potentially much colder era in relations between Washington and Beijing.

The Trump administration is now taking aim at military, political and economic targets in Beijing, The Wall Street Journal reported this week, citing interviews with senior White House officials and others in government.

Washington has already imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and has threatened to place tariffs on all Chinese imports to the US. China has retaliated by imposing duties on $110 billion worth of US exports.

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