UPU: Parcels volume up in 2005 as letter post levels off

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A significant increase in the number of ordinary parcels sent in 2005 contrasts with a leveling-off of domestic letter-post volumes, according to the international postal union UPU.

The 6 billion parcels sent throughout the world represent an 11 percent increase from 2004. Japan and the United States each account for 33 percent of total volumes.

However, international letter-post volumes were down 2.5 percent from 2004, dropping from 5.8 billion items to 5.6 billion items.

The UPU unveiled its 2005 postal statistics Oct. 9, which are compiled through an annual survey sent to public postal operators and regulators in member countries.

In 2005, posts worldwide processed 431 billion domestic items, a slight increase over the previous year. Industrialized countries generated the majority of domestic items: 82.7 percent. But 10.2 percent were sent in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Latin American and Caribbean region (5.8 percent) and the Arab region (3 percent) were the only ones that experienced a global increase in domestic letter-post items in 2005.

Asia-Pacific (5.5 percent) and Africa (1.9 percent) saw their volumes decrease. Industrialized countries experienced a 1.1 percent increase compared to 2004.

Industrialized countries generate close to 73 percent of the 5.6 billion international letter-post items sent worldwide. The U.S. and Britain produce the greatest number of letters sent abroad, with 830 million and 450 million items respectively.

The greatest decreases in volumes were experienced in Arab countries (8.8 percent) and in the Asia-Pacific region (3.7 percent). Central and Eastern European countries and those belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) experienced the greatest volume increase (10 percent) for two decades.

The 11 percent increase in parcel volumes is thought to be due to the efforts made by posts to promote this service.

In Japan, for example, the postal operator has revitalized an existing delivery service to win back market share. In 2005, parcel volumes processed by Japan Post increased to 2 billion pieces from 1.4 billion the previous year. The greatest regional growth took place in Latin America and the Caribbean (12.9 percent), in industrialized countries (12.4 percent), and in the Central and Eastern European and CIS countries (10.8 percent).

The number of parcels sent abroad increased by an average of 4.2 percent each year between 2000 and 2005, possibly thanks to the growing popularity of e-commerce.

More and more posts are adopting electronic services, according to the statistics. Indeed, 82 percent of industrialized countries and 49 percent of developing countries now offer an online postal service. A bill payment option is offered in 43 percent of industrialized countries and in 8 percent of developing countries.

Five postal services in industrialized countries today offer a digital postmark service, and such services are starting to appear in developing countries, with 2.5 percent of these countries currently offering them.

Meanwhile, as part of a celebration of World Post Day held annually on Oct. 9, UPU Director General Edouard Dayan is asking all postal sector stakeholders to pay attention to the quality of service in the posts.

The UPU is a United Nations specialized agency based in Berne, Switzerland. UPU  establishes the rules for international mail exchanges among its 191 members and makes recommendations to stimulate mail volume growth and to improve the quality of service for customers.

"I invite all postal stakeholders to focus on quality, and to take the necessary action to ensure that the services they offer contribute fully to the social and economic development of their countries and provide action to their private and business customers," Mr. Dayan said in a message released to the UPU's member countries.

The Quality of Service Fund launched in 2001 has already financed 300 projects to improve quality of service in the developing and least developed countries, Mr. Dayan said.

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