June 4, 2009

UPU Council of Administration

Ad hoc group to study the “Impact of new market players on the UPU and on its mission and activities”
Comments on the terms of reference for the study by the United States of America

The United States is pleased to put forward the following comments regarding the terms of reference for the study to be conducted by the CA Reform of the Union Project Group on the mission and activities of the UPU as well as the impact of “new market players”.

New market players

  • We understand that there may be at least two meanings of the phrase “new market players”. One could refer to private-sector companies or even state-owned enterprises that are new entrants to an existing segment of the overall postal and delivery markets, such as bulk letters, parcels, express items and remittances. Another could refer to entirely new types of businesses in delivery markets, such as companies that offer online P.O. Box and mail forwarding (one example of which is “Earth Class Mail”). This business, which did not exist until a couple of years ago, could have a significant impact on postal markets. Others might have a different understanding of the meaning of “new market players.” Therefore, we think it would be important to clearly define what meaning is intended by the study.

  • The greatly expanded use of the Internet for purposes such as bill presentment and payment, which have been handled mainly by postal services until quite recently, and the online mail forwarding business mentioned above, as well as communications services and the evolving developments in digitization of physical goods, i.e. films, magazines and newspapers, are all innovations that we witnessed the past couple of years. These should also be considered by the ad hoc group to determine how their emergence might affect the activities of member posts and how the UPU could respond. During the last Congress cycle, this work to a large measure was carried out by the Scenarios Team of the Strategic Planning Group which considered postal sector stakeholders and drivers of change in the business environment and proposed approaches for the UPU to address incremental to disruptive changes in the sector. CA Committee 4, which has taken over the UPU’s strategic planning work, has decided not to form such a group to study scenarios or trends in the marketplace. The need for a comprehensive study of the impact of new trends and players on the UPU should be the focus of this ad hoc group.

  • If the UPU hopes to use the results of the study to address particular organizational or other issues, the project group should define those issues within the terms of reference at least as possible applications for the results of the study.