World Postal Volume Dips, But Most Project Increases

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Despite slight decreases in worldwide letter and parcel volumes from 2002 to 2003, public postal operators remain optimistic that their strategies will bring mail volume growth over the next five years, according to a report Friday from the Universal Postal Union during its 23rd Congress in Bucharest, Romania.

While electronic substitution continues to affect worldwide letter volumes, e-commerce development is expected to generate greater parcel volumes in the future. As a result, many public postal operators are implementing logistics and online services to respond to customers' needs.

The report, "Postal Market 2004: Review and Outlook," shows postal sector developments from 1998 to 2003. It includes public postal operators' predictions for the period up to 2008. Report highlights include:

· Worldwide domestic letter volumes totaled 424 billion pieces in 2003, down 0.4 percent from 2002.

· Except for some industrialized countries and countries in the Asia/Pacific region, public postal operators in most regions predict higher domestic letter volumes through 2008. Africa forecasts an average annual rise of 1.3 percent compared with 1.6 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1.7 percent in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States region and 2.7 percent in Arab countries.

· Worldwide international letter volumes exceeded 6 billion pieces in 2003, down 5.1 percent from 2002. The drop affected almost three-quarters of all countries.

· International letter volumes represented 1.4 percent of worldwide volume in 2003 versus 2 percent in 1995.

· Worldwide domestic ordinary parcel volumes totaled 4.4 billion pieces in 2003, down 5 percent from 2002. Despite the fall, parcel traffic increased in Africa as well as Latin America and the Caribbean.

· Fifty-eight percent of world postal revenue was generated by letters, 23 percent by parcels and logistics services, 14 percent by postal financial services and 5 percent by other services.

· More than 96 percent of the world's population is served by public postal operators while almost 4 percent, mostly in Africa, lacked postal services in 2003.

· Advertising mail, a growing sector for postal operators, made up almost 30 percent of domestic letter volume worldwide in 2003.

· Twenty-one percent of UPU member countries offer e-mail service while 13 percent of countries, including half of the industrialized nations, offer online bill payments. Another 13 percent have goods sold via the Internet.

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