Postal Service Announces New International Services

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CHICAGO--The U.S. Postal Service, Washington, DC, announced here at the Fall Postal Forum yesterday that it plans to announce two new services this October that are designed to improve international mail delivery.

The services -- called GPL-EU and ISAL Economy -- were discussed by Bob Michelson, mail order manager of the USPS' international business unit, at a luncheon sponsored by the International Mailers Action Group and the International Business Unit of the USPS.

GPL-EU, or Global Package Link-EU, is an extension of the agency's Global Package Link export service for high-volume shippers. The new service, however, will allow mailers to enter their mail into all European Union countries via one entry point -- the United Kingdom.

According to the USPS, GPL-EU will eliminate the need to fill out individual paperwork for each country since it routes all packages through the UK. Mailers will no longer need to figure out the specific duties and taxes for each European country since they will only have to pay duties and taxes for the UK. They will also be able to reduce the administrative costs of entering multiple markets individually.

GPL-EU will have two rate levels -- one essentially for West European countries and another for East European countries. While shipping costs will vary based on each country, rates are planned to start at $13.25 for a one-pound package in the Western region of Europe, and $21.50 for a one-pound package in the Eastern region.

GPL-EU countries include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

ISAL Economy -- its tentative name -- will allow mailers to ship Standard-A mail to Japan in pallets by boat rather than by plane. While this will add an extra week to ten days for delivery, prices will decrease by 10 percent. The Japan Post, with whom the USPS has partnered with for this service, will be opening a new plant Nov. 1 outside of Tokyo to accommodate this service.

Most mailers at the luncheon -- such as Lloyd Karls from Fingerhut, Minnetonka, MN; Eric Niman from Enrich International, Orem, UT; and Richard Voght of USANA, Salt Lake City, UT expressed interested in the programs.

Michelson also discussed the 12 major decisions accepted and put forward by the Universal Postal Union at its Congress in Beijing that ended Sept. 15.

Most importantly, he said that the Congress approved a new, country-specific, cost-based terminal dues structure for industrialized countries. Terminal dues will now be a percentage of the domestic tariff for letters and will rise to 60 percent of domestic rates in 2003. Currently, terminal dues are based on a global average that is in turn based on the costs of terminal dues in both developed and developing countries. The rate structure, however, means international rates will increase around the world in January, 2001.

"The biggest cost that any post has in terms of international mail is delivery charges, which in a generic sense, is called terminal dues," said Michelson. "And since the base costs are going up, everyone's international rates will go up--they have to."

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