UPU Congress Opens With Call for Unity

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Postal stakeholders must continue to change and advance together as an industry if they are to tackle new challenges, said Thomas E. Leavey, director general of the Universal Postal Union, at yesterday's opening meeting of the 23rd UPU Congress at the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest, Romania.

"Changes in markets, changes in technology and changes in regulations and stakeholder roles all have transformed the postal landscape while providing a constantly changing horizon of threats and opportunities," Leavey said.

The UPU's 2-year-old Quality of Service Fund, from which developing countries can obtain financial assistance to improve the quality of universal postal service, is "the best chance we have for achieving a high level of service throughout our international network," he said. "Its future viability is essential to the achievement of the Bucharest World Postal Strategy and to the concept of high-quality universal services offered throughout a single postal territory."

Delegates are expected to adopt the five-point World Postal Strategy on Oct. 1. The strategy is a four-year roadmap for the world's postal regulators and operators, focusing on universal service, quality of service, market knowledge, postal reform and cooperation among industry stakeholders.

The congress was declared officially open by Romanian President Ion Iliescu.

"The rapid technological changes have created great opportunities, but also threats for postal operators," Iliescu said. "On the one hand, increased electronic substitution is a challenge for the traditional post, but technological changes also offer the possibility to increase efficiency and widen the range of services offered."

The congress is expected to make several decisions affecting the industry, including revising a system for compensating countries for the reciprocal exchange of international mail, legally defining the Electronic Postmark as a new optional postal service and adopting a worldwide international service quality standard and service measurement.

The congress unites representatives of more than 160 UPU member countries, totaling nearly 2,000 delegates, observers and guests. It takes place during 14 days through Oct. 5.

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