UPU Chief: World Postal Sector Builds Economies

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With 660,000 post offices and 5 million employees worldwide, the postal sector is a partner in reducing the digital divide, Edouard Dayan, director general of the Universal Postal Union, said Friday in his message for World Post Day.

"The post is present everywhere -- even in the remotest corners of many countries -- and serves as a key point of access to the outside world," he said. World Post Day is celebrated annually Oct. 9, the day the UPU was founded in 1874.

Reducing the digital divide is the main objective of next month's World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia, Dayan said. He stressed the postal sector's role in the new information society. The world postal network is pushing back physical, digital and financial frontiers, he said, helping build national economies and reducing poverty.

According to the UPU, in 2004:

· 81 percent of industrialized countries and 38 percent of developing countries provided online postal services.

· 41 percent of industrialized countries and 8 percent of developing countries offered online bill payment services.

· 37 percent of industrialized countries and 21 percent of developing countries offered electronic mail services.

· 33 percent of industrialized countries and 10 percent of developing countries offered online shopping opportunities.

Dayan urged governments, the private sector and international organizations to work with the postal sector: "Together, by creating lasting partnerships, we can provide millions of people with fairer access to communications and information, a human right and, for the postal sector, a core mission."

The UPU, a United Nations agency based in Bern, Switzerland, is the main forum for cooperation among posts. It establishes the rules for international mail exchanges among its 190 members and makes recommendations to stimulate mail volume growth and improve service quality.

Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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