Online sellers concerned that they are paying more to send a package to US shoppers than their Chinese counterparts have an opportunity to weigh in on the issue of international postal rates.
The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) must review proposed UPU Terminal Dues rates for 2018 - 2021 and submit its view to the State Department, which oversees negotiations on international postal rates with other UN members.
Terminal Dues are complicated and may not sound very exciting, but they are having an enormous impact on ecommerce in this country, and on small sellers in particular.
Shipping costs are huge issue for online sellers, and according to Pacific Standard magazine
, "A comprehensive study by the research group Copenhagen Economics has found that the misalignment of terminal dues rates is leading online shoppers to order directly from countries with favorable UPU positions, rather than from suppliers closer to home - even if the price of the item itself is identical."
One expert believes the discount for the new proposed Terminal Dues rates for mail from Hong Kong, Singapore, and China will improve (from a US shipper's point of view) from the current level of about 70% to about 50% by 2021.
The PRC is seeking comments on both the general process and on specific rates, but you only have until 4:30 pm ET on July 21 (Thursday). Here's the docket
on the PRC website.
Your comments will be made publicly viewable on the PRC website, here are instructions
on leaving a comment.
Look for more information in our coverage of UPU Terminal Dues in tomorrow (Wednesday's) Newsflash (available now
Update 7/20/16: People have reported problems submitting a public comment on the PRC website. Here's one reader's description of the problem:
Following your directions I opened a temporary account this morning on the Postal Regulatory site. I completed the document and attempted to submit it. Three times I received the following error message:
The website encountered an unexpected error. Please try again later.
Mary Hanks, Dockets Assistant at the PRC, said one common problem is if you have special characters in the file name - make sure it doesn't include a comma, for example. (Also keep in mind you must submit all contact information when filing.)
Anyone who continues to have problems can call her at the main number, 202-789-6800, or her direct line at 202-789-6845. Mary is extremely friendly and helpful, so don't give up.
UPDATE 7/21/16: See today's Letter to the Editor for detailed information on posting a comment on the PRC website.