USPS to improve Mexican mail

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The US Postal Service and the Servicio Postal Mexicano (SEPOMEX) have signed an agreement to improve mail services between the United States and Mexico.

The USPS has agreed to help SEPOMEX in an effort to improve its management structure and processes, and re-engineer its operations.

SEPOMEX has agreed to work with the USPS in exploring and developing joint business opportunities and improving cross-border services.

SEPOMEX has struggled with inefficiency and security. Mexican citizens have reportedly lost confidence in the mail delivery provided and finded by the government.

Following an economic crisis in 1982 and earthquake destruction of postal facilities, the Mexican postal service lost delivery staff and service suffered.

In a poll conducted by researcher Parametria in 2005, nearly one third of the population considered SEPOMEX to be slow and said they prefer to use private messengers to hand-deliver documents. An additional 29 percent of citizens reported never having heard of SEPOMEX.

"The strategy of this agreement is to work together and determine areas where USPS has made efficiency gains that could be replicated by SEPOMEX," said Yvonne Yoerger, media relations representative at the USPS.

"It will include SEPOMEX staff visiting US facilities to analyze procedures and equipment, again to see where improvements or best practices that have proven successful here can be implemented south of the border as well," she continued.

The Mexican postal system handles about 700 million letters a year, which is roughly seven pieces per citizen. This pales in comparison to the USPS's 200 billion pieces a year for an estimated population of 280 million.

Bulk mail accounts for 90 percent of the correspondence that SEPOMEX handles and this is one area that the USPS and SEPOMEX hope to improve reliability on.

Privately owned shippers have invested heavily in Mexican package delivery. DHL, FedEx and UPS all operate in Mexico.

Part of the reason that the package delivery service has grown in Mexico is due to a government-regulated monopoly that SEPOMEX has on lighter mail. According to Mexican constitutional law, all mail weighing below a kilogram must be delivered by SEPOMEX.

However, some private delivery services reportedly still find loopholes to this law through providing mailers certified delivery and other advanced service options to differentiate their business from that of a standard postal delivery.

The National Mexican Association of Courier Businesses includes about 30 members that serve more than 400,000 clients. Those companies post sales of $925 million in US currency a year. SEPOMEX hopes to regain some of this business by bringing in more efficiency.

The USPS will use its own transformation experience in supporting SEPOMEX. Since embarking on a strategic transformation in 2002, the USPS has taken an average of $1 billion out of its cost base annually, while making productivity gains.

The two agencies will form a joint service improvement and business development team to pursue initiatives in international express mail service, air-mail parcels, and package services.

Another key component of the agreement is collaboration to develop enhanced security procedures for all mail products.

USPS has agreed to support SEPOMEX in developing its own postal inspection group. This action will include the selection and hiring of postal inspectors as well as investment in their training.

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