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U.S. to leave global postal union next month barring last-minute action (freightwaves.com)
174 points by MaysonL 33 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 203 comments



I'm not sure what the unintended consequences are but I believe this is the right move. It is completely unfair that it's cheaper to ship from China to the United States than it is to ship from Chicago to New York. It naturally puts American businesses at a disadvantage. There is always the argument of semantics of what makes a developing country a developing country, but I think being the second largest economy on Earth isn't afforded that label.


The traditional US way to change the rules: get other countries together to back up your position, suggest a principled approach, be willing to make concessions in other areas. The new way: flip the table over.


Hasn't the US been trying to do that (regarding China's categorization in the global postal union) for years, with no success? At what point does 'flipping the table over' become an acceptable action under your models?


Correct. This is the final straw to correct what is arguably an unfair model.


> at what point does...

That really depends on the economic and other consequences of flipping the table. Dies a single, albeit large, bad actor like China warrant a table flip? What proportion of mail comes from them and what from developed nations with whom we'll need to come to new agreements, drastically increasing the friction of overseas shipping to everyone involved?

I'm not sure this is the wrong move, in fact I think it might be the right one, but that's my gut. It doesn't seem like a real economic impact analysis has been done though, and that is problematic, making this seem much more politically motivated than from a position of careful consideration of what's in our best interest.


There are a variety fraudulent shennanigans that this agreement facilitated such as people in China shipping random packages to the US so they can use the tracking details to validate fake reviews.

I purchased a temporary replacement phone via a website that claimed to ship domestically in the United States when it was actually shipped from China. There were several issues with the phone, but to return the device I would have been on the hook for over $100 in shipping. The credit card company refused to help through their purchase protection coverage because I had not returned the device.

How was it ever in our interest to force our e-commerce retailers to subsidize shipping for Chinese e-commerce retailers?


>What proportion of mail comes from them and what from developed nations with whom we'll need to come to new agreements, drastically increasing the friction of overseas shipping to everyone involved?

I don't see the problem here, nor why the proportion matters at all. The simple fact is that shipping from the US to anywhere else in the world costs a fortune. So flipping the table can't possibly make it any worse.


> What proportion of mail comes from them

That's actually pretty hard to answer it seems. I can't find any straightforward chart from either USPS, or other research that would show the packages volume by year and country. Does anyone know of such source?


If flipping the table over never produces a net positive result, it never becomes an acceptable action.

I'm having trouble imagining what positive result could come out of this that outweighs the downside of fracturing the global postal system.


You could make the argument that China, who refused to negotiate with the US, was the party that fractured the global postal system as they forced the US to take such drastic action. What other options did the US have? They've already tried work it out amicably.


> You could make the argument that China, who refused to negotiate with the US, was the party that fractured the global postal system as they forced the US to take such drastic action.

We're the most powerful nation in the world, not a toddler. "He made me do it!" isn't an argument for adults. We're responsible for our own actions. China may have made a bad decision, but that doesn't give the US a pass for making an even worse decision.


Why would the US not look out for its own best interests? China and the US were in a deal where the only way for the US to be in a favorable (or even just not-terrible) position was to re-negotiate a deal that was made almost 50 years ago when the world was significantly different geopolitically, even more so with regards to China. China refused to negotiate, believing that the US would never pull out and that they had all the leverage. What other option does the US have? Keep subsidizing packages for their main economic rival? Sit back and do nothing while China continues to benefit?

Yeah, china "made the US do it" in the same way that a car dealership "makes you not by a car" when they don't give you the deal you wanted, but I don't really see why that means the dealership is doing anything wrong.


> Why would the US not look out for its own best interests?

Of course the US should look out for its own best interests.

It is far from clear that leaving the global postal union is in our best interests, however.

> China refused to negotiate, believing that the US would never pull out and that they had all the leverage.

Given US dependency on Chinese products, I don't think we can clearly say that China doesn't have all the leverage.

> Keep subsidizing packages for their main economic rival? Sit back and do nothing while China continues to benefit?

Keep in mind that subsidizing packages from China is also a subsidy to US consumers of Chinese goods. Americans benefit from this too. And leaving the global postal union affects a lot more than just our relations with China.

So yes, maybe continuing to subsidize packages from our main economic rival is better than leaving the global postal union.

I don't have all the facts here, so I am not sure I know what's right, but I have enough facts to see that only looking at how fair or unfair things are doesn't give you the whole picture.


With an obviously unfair trade agreement that has facilitated numerous well documented frauds and abuses, the obligation rests with those who claim that staying is beneficial to provide evidence to that effect.

The only downside you have mentioned explicitly is that "US customers may pay more for shipping" is clearly false. The money for that subsidy has to come from somewhere and it has been coming from US customers paying more for domestic shipping.


How terrible was it exactly? What would be the consequences of it continuing, and what are the consequences of its ending?

I'm not familiar with it personally, but an adult sometimes has to say "No, it's not fair, but it's not that big a deal, and the damage caused by throwing a tantrum over it isn't worth the sop to my pride."


There's an entire section in the article about how bad it is for the US. One excerpt:

"According to the Postal Regulatory Commission, the independent agency that rules on postal rate proposals, the loss to USPS attributable to terminal dues reached $134.5 million in fiscal year 2016 and $170 million in fiscal year 2017"

Spending over $170 million a year (and rising, especially with the massive yoy increases of packages shipped from China) and making it easier for your largest (by far) economic rival to sell in your country than companies that are established in your country is pretty terrible, I would argue.


You didn't answer the other question, which is just as important. What are the consequences of it ending? Not just to China, but to the US and the world? The article doesn't address that except to say "Beijing may retaliate" and "USPS wants to establish agreements with foreign posts."

You can't weigh two options if you only know the weight of one of them.


You could make the same argument about China. Why shouldn't they just agree to no longer be subsidized in exchange for keeping the US in the trade agreement?

Either the price different isn't a huge deal, and China should just pay the cost of the shipments, or the price is a big enough deal that China finds this extremely unfavorable, and "the US should just keep doing it because it's not a big deal" no longer applies.


> You could make the same argument about China.

That's true, but this is a discussion about what the US should do to protect US interests, not about what China should do to protect Chinese interests.

This is exactly the childish "well they started it!" attitude I'm talking about. China is not going to look out for US interests, nor even should they. The US has to look out for US interests, and the US needs to do that by weighing our options and choosing the ones that make sense, not by blaming China and trying to exact petty vengeance.

I don't know what the right thing to do here is, but the only way one possibly could know the right thing to do is by comparing the costs of our options, and there's a complete lack of information on this thread about what the costs of leaving the global postal union are. If you don't know what those costs are, you aren't informed enough to have an opinion on whether we should leave, period. And whining about what other countries do should have no place in deciding what we do.

Have some pride for god's sake, take responsibility for your own choices and stop blaming other people.


I haven't even made a firm argument yet. I'm trying to find out what's actually in the balance so I can make an informed decision.

It may well be that there's no major downside for the US, or for anyone except China. If you can show me evidence of that, I'd love to see it! But this administration has a history of rash, unconsidered actions based on nothing more than pride, so I don't think it's unreasonable to want to see that evidence before I take them at their word.


Let's imagine a game with the following payoff matrix:

    C      D
  C (5, 5) (1, 7)
  D (7, 1) (0, 0)
If your opponent is defecting, you get one point and they get seven. If you defect on top of this, you both get zero - but everyone cooperating gives you both five points. Credibly threatening to defect, even though defection harms you, is the only way to convince your opponent to move to cooperation from defection.

Sometimes credibly threatening to perform an action involves actually following through with the threat.


Gosh, "Argument from imaginary payoff matrix" is a new logical fallacy I haven't seen before.

Let's stick to looking at the situation in front of us instead of imagining ones that don't exist.


Well, you were wondering how flipping the table could ever be the right choice. I tried to show a toy situation in which that would be the case.

It may or may not map to the situation here, but IMO that's irrelevant. Personally, I think it maps pretty well.


It fails when the other party is aware of the strategy and broadens the context of the game to flip something else that you care about.

Which is why the correct response to all requests for a contract re-negotiation is "Great - let's meet, because I also have some terms I would like to see changed."


> Well, you were wondering how flipping the table could ever be the right choice.

No, I sure wasn't.

Obviously there are situations where flipping the table is the right choice. This probably isn't one of those situations.


I disagree. According to the article, the USPS is subsidizing Chinese imports to the tune of approximately $150,000,000 per year. We have exhausted all other practical approaches to resolving this outrage. China will not budge unless they know they have to.

That's the tie-in with prisoner's dilemma, you see? Only by making the other party aware that negative consequences are dire, certain, and soon can an equitable outcome for both parties be achieved.

I would note that China has already leveraged government borrowing power to the hilt in order to artificially support their stock market prices, leaving them almost no room the maneuver.

You argue that this it is childish for us to force the issue. No. Wrong. It's game theory. Do you want a good outcome?


> That's the tie-in with prisoner's dilemma, you see?

I feel like I should point out that the example I posted differs from the classic prisoner's dilemma by making the differential utility of moving to the defect, defect state negative for both parties. Normally, defection improves the defector's utility, so that space would be something like (3,3).

Still game theory though.


> You argue that this it is childish for us to force the issue.

No, I don't argue that at all. I argue that it's childish to say China is forcing us to do this.

I also said it's foolish to only look at the cost of continuing to subsidize Chinese imports, and not ALSO look at the cost of leaving the global postal union. Your post shows that you continue to only look at the former costs, and have yet to even acknowledge that the latter has cost.

Incidentally, looking at ALL the possible outcomes to choose your action is exactly what game theory about, so don't cite game theory as if it proves your point when in fact you're refusing to actually use game theory.


Well, at a minimum it makes goods from China more expensive and drop shipping from China no longer makes sense for many products. If you aren't getting those products from China, they'll come from somewhere else.


> Well, at a minimum it makes goods from China more expensive and drop shipping from China no longer makes sense for many products.

Well, given the number of products we buy from China, this sounds like it's going to make things more expensive for US Citizens.

> If you aren't getting those products from China, they'll come from somewhere else.

...for a higher price, probably, which we will pay.


Very few items bought from China come via the postal system: they're primarily moved by freight to USA fulfillment centers and then shipped domestically when orders come in.

So no, it won't make things more expensive for most consumers. There's a high likelihood that you've never received anything from China by mail.


That is just absolutely not true. First, go ahead and read the article. Next, order a few $1 items from AliExpress.


I have ordered things from aliexpress. I've ordered orders of magnitude more stuff from Amazon. That's my point. A number doesn't have to be zero to be practically insignificant.


Your point is that because Amazon is sells more stuff than AliExpress we should stay in a bad deal? Not sure I get that point.


Please point out where I said we should. I'll wait.

I'm just saying that it won't have a large negative impact on consumers or overall trade volumes. If anything I'm defending.

This is extremely tiresome.


Correct. Vietnam is already accusing China of exporting things claimed to have been made in Vietnam. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9281123/china-mislabelling-pro...


How many products are directly shipped from China through the postal service? The answer is very few. This will have little to no impact on trade volumes overall, since they're largely moved as freight.


AliExpress survives entirely from these low postal rates, and a chunk of Ebay business does too.


Yes, that's exactly my point. It's a niche, and that niche is much much much smaller than the overall category of "things that were imported from China".

And further to the point of impact on trade volumes: a good number of those purchases will instead just happen on amazon or wherever, and will still be of products originating in China: they'll just take a different path into the country and potentially be more expensive.


No, it's really not a "niche".

By your logic, the entire postal system is a "niche" in the overall economy. That doesn't mean you should ignore it.

Stuff shipped from China through the postal system isn't a "niche", it's an enormous volume of mail, and it's the very reason our postal rates are so damn high.

>they'll just take a different path into the country and potentially be more expensive.

How exactly is this a problem??!! The whole problem is that it's unfair trade for postal customers to be subsidizing people buying stuff on AliExpress. If someone wants to import shipping containers full of cheap Chinese stuff and resell it within the US, that's fine: it's way more efficient and ecological than drop-shipping from China. It doesn't work right now because the postal rates are so horrendous for domestic postage, but if we stop subsidizing Chinese shippers, then that should change.


I didn't say it was a problem! I think it's a good change. But the parent suggested it would have a broader impact on trade volumes, which it won't.

Why are you all so defensive about this?


It's not about having a huge impact on trade volumes. It will have an impact on small stuff and drop shipping. Why should we stay in a bad deal that was made fifty years ago when circumstances were completely different?


Oh, I actually agree that the system isn't doing what it supposed to and that we should exit it here. I just don't think it will have that much effect on most consumers, because the volume is comparatively tiny. That's all I'm saying.


It's not "flipping the table over", it's stabbing your eye with a pen because you can't get your way. Self inflicted injury.


How is this disadvantageous for the US?


literally from the article: "The practical effect of the exit of the U.S. would be a rate increase of at least 300 percent on postal parcel traffic to the U.S. from heavy net exporting countries as rates kept artificially low for decades begin to normalize" 3x increase in costs for shipping sounds pretty disadvantageous. It's not like the US is producing a lot of stuff being shipped international via post.


That quote from the article is about "parcel traffic to the US" not from the US. The next sentence is the relevant one to your argument, I think: "U.S.-based international shippers will also pay more, at least over the short-term, because USPS will cancel negotiated service agreements (NSA) covering international shipments if the withdrawal takes place, White said."


But how many US manufacturers are there that ship internationally via USPS?


If they sell to the public, probably quite a few. When the sender uses a parcel service the recipient gets to pay the fee for customs brokerage, but with the post it's included.

Commercial recipients know about brokerage fees and can estimate how much the surcharge will be, but Joe Random has no idea and will complain.


Our company is one. About 20% of our sales are outside the US. We ship international shipments via USPS exclusively because it has always been the best value.


There is a market where people buy from us based companies, the items are made elsewhere but people are more comfortable buying from a us brand


Won't this increase the price of goods imported into the US?


Practical upshot presumably being the end user will pay more for shipping instead of it being subsidized at the tax level by everyone. For better or worse.


The USPS isn't subsidized by taxes, though - instead the subsidy has been coming from domestic package shipments, which should become cheaper now that they aren't being relied on for that.


The U.S. State Department, which is the lead negotiator for the U.S. in UPU, has submitted a proposal that would allow the U.S. to “self-declare” international postage pricing and to decide on subsidy levels, if any. Unless the UPU agrees to the proposal by a September 30 deadline, the U.S. will leave the Union 17 days later and, over time, begin a framework of bilateral negotiations with individual postal authorities. The self-declare regime would begin in 2020.

These are negotiations, not flipping the table.


Sometimes you gotta be results oriented. This situation has been going on for decades according to TFA.


I'd argue the president should always be results-oriented.

That is to say, we should be looking at the results of leaving the global postal union, rather than just reacting because it's unfair.


Part of the problem with this admin is that once in a while something like this happens, and it's very difficult to figure out if it's actually a reasonable approach or just more corruption, incompetence, bullying and theatrics.


Flipping the table over isn't a new tactic. When Nixon was President, the US abandoned convertability of dollars into gold without consultation (the "Nixon Shock" of 1971), which makes leaving the postal union look like small potatoes.


Leaving the postal union in the method specified in the treaty, doesn't seem like "flipping the table over". It's more like, deciding not to play that game any more.


I heard a story once about a (then) young man. He was newly married and playing Monopoly with his sister and his new wife. He was losing, and he decided not to play the game anymore. He communicated his decision by literally flipping the game board off the table. Little houses and hotels ricocheting and skittering all over the room.

This was years ago. I believe that the man now has anti-depressants to help him control his emotions a little bit better.


It doesn't help we have a president who has destroyed and/or wasted tons of U.S. soft power.


Hasn't the US always been flip the table over. Or at least muscle other countries into things. I don't really remember many times it used principle approaches.


And once the table is flipped, you have no more leverage. Plus, the other side can tell their population, "the US is being a bully." It looks cool, but it's not nearly as effective as the slow-moving grind of global diplomacy.


The slow-moving grind hasn't worked.

This isn't some whim of the current administration. The United States has been trying to correct this for decades.


The current administration seems willing to pull the trigger on anything at all that has ever been vaguely pointed in China's direction: postal union complaints, WTO grievances, party poppers, champagne corks, water balloons filled with urine. You name it; if it hurts China even a pinprick diplomatically, they want to use it. If it has ever been proposed and analyzed, just for preparedness, and then left alone for prudent diplomatic reasons, they're now pulling it out of storage and setting it off, or pushing it from the slow-grind to the fast-track.

It might have been in the works for decades, but the current administration is why it is actually happening in 2019, instead of getting perpetual postponements, hoping to resolve things amicably, without major economic disruptions.

I'm a bit surprised they haven't moved toward recognizing Taiwan as independently sovereign, and I'd bet that someone is carefully redacting any allusions to the fact that Taiwan exists from all briefings, and begging Fox News daily to keep any mentions of it off the air.


> I'm a bit surprised they haven't moved toward recognizing Taiwan as independently sovereign

Trump wants a trade war, not a real war.


Rome, Paris, Kyoto, TPP, landmines, this pattern is not new


You should check the details of what the UPU treaty imposes on the US. I haven't checked, but as they say, it's cheaper to ship from China to US than it is from within the US, and that can't possibly be fair, nor desirable for any reason (including eco-friendliness).


As I understand it this problem isn't unique to the US but all countries and china.


You mean the US should've rather pushed within UPU for fair rules?


You mean the US didn't try to do that for years?


> And once the table is flipped, you have no more leverage

One only has leverage if the other side thinks one might flip a table, which requires a periodic demonstration.


They can claim the US is a bully for anything... Like Europeans will point at Libya and say the US is a bully and they eat it up in self stroking agreement.


The US has been overly patient with China. At some point you have to flip the table over. I don't want to bring politics into the discussion, but I actually think it's one of the few things Trump has done that I agree with (I'm a Canadian so I only tangentially have a horse in the race.)


Remember the league of nations? The US has always been flipping the table over.


This seems to be a highly romanticized view of the recent history of international relations.


If this is about China, then why wouldn't other countries want to join us in changing the fee structure? Better to team up with other nations than pull out and be all alone on a framework that's far bigger than China and relates to all global shipping, no?

Genuinely asking because I am unfamiliar with these issues.


Not sure if this is the case with the postal union, but many multilateral organizations are structured one-vote-per-country and the Chinese side is able, by dint of its greater leverage with corrupt small governments, to get a disproportionate amount of influence.

(The obvious caveats apply: no idea if this applies in this particular instance; this doesn't mean that withdrawing from international agreements is always the appropriate step for the US to take; other voting systems have their own problems)


> by dint of its greater leverage with corrupt small governments

Because any nation that isn't on your side is corrupt, right?


> Because any nation that isn't on your side is corrupt, right?

Do you have experience living in countries where you need to bribe everyone everywhere to get anything done? You're missing the point, and I doubt you're speaking from any sort of authority when you say these decisions are not made via shady backroom deals.


> Do you have experience living in countries where you need to bribe everyone everywhere to get anything done?

Yup, two years in India over a decade ago when it was much worse than it is now.

At the end of the day, a country will ally with or back the country from which they can extract the maximum benefit. Game theory applies.

Many Pacific Island countries (many of the tiny countries you allude to) have benefited greatly from switching allegiance to China. In contrast, the US has much bigger fish to fry (billions in aid to Israel supposedly for mid-east stability) and paid these tiny nations no attention whatsoever over the past few decades.

> Do you have experience living in countries where you need to bribe everyone everywhere to get anything done? I doubt you're speaking from any sort of authority when you say these decisions are not made via shady backroom deals.

Do you mean like the US, where unlike anywhere else in the world, bribery (cunningly called lobbying) is both completely legal and publicly accepted?


That is the route they are currently pursuing. Leaving the global postal union is dependent on the outcome of a vote.


They just like other situation with china other countries are afraid of their wrath


The current US President approaches diplomacy likes real estate deals. A good approach - in real estate markets - is to threaten to walk away from a deal. Unfortunately, it doesn't work quite the same way in international diplomacy.


> A good approach - in real estate markets - is to threaten to walk away from a deal. Unfortunately, it doesn't work quite the same way in international diplomacy.

I think it actually does; what the President (assuming he is actually trying to acheive what he overtly claims to in negotiations, which is far from obviously true) seems not to understand about international negotiations is that while it can be very useful to make the other side believe you will walk away from a deal if they don't bend far enough, making a public threat to do so that makes it hard for them to claim victory (particularly, to their domestic constituents) when a deal that is actually in your favor is reached makes it politically difficult for them to compromise.

And this is true for authoritarian regimes as well as democratic ones; the absence of electoral accountability doesn't mean that domestic support is irrelevant (it just means opposition lacks a nonviolent safety valve), and even in regimes that tightly control public information, influential elites which the leadership wants to keep in line will generally be aware of public information from outside of regime channels.


Being able to walk away from the deal is crucial in every negotiation. There is no limit to real estate. It's the same in employment, business, and yes, international diplomacy.


Except in real estate, employment and business, you are usually only talking about a single contract during negotiations. There is little either party can offer the other outside of that contract. In diplomacy, there is so much going on between states, that you can offer completely unrelated incentives in negotiations.


Yes, because international diplomacy is like 18-dimensional chess. The two parties are negotiating over a multitude of different things in parallel.


> Unfortunately, it doesn't work quite the same way in international diplomacy.

However, the "traditional" way doesn't work either. Case in point: EU puts tariffs on a wide variety of US goods -- tariffs that have been in effect for decades. The EU, even before Trump, charged a 10% tariff on US cars, while the US only charged a 2.5% tariff on European cars. The EU taxed US apples at 17%, grapes at 20%. Clothing, and all sort of other products are and were heavily taxed. California and other American wines are taxed at double the rate of EU wines entering the United States.

"Trump invented tariffs" is the the current media narrative, but it's not even close to being true. The EU taxes the hell of US goods. Try to ship a spare part of a child's stroller from the US. I paid a $40 tax for a part that cost me $25. Duties, tariffs and other taxes are oppressive and the US should fight back. If the EU doesn't want tariffs -- they can eliminate the taxes they've historically put on US products. But they only complain now because Trump is trying to play their own protectionist game.

So Trumps's "real estate" approach is a pretty novel one -- and one that has actually forced the EU to negotiate in good faith, unlike the decades were US products were taxed unfairly. The EU has tariffs on almost everything -- I'm not sure why Trump is the bad guy in a trade war here. Trump is just the first president to actually stand up to the EU when it comes to trade.

Why the hell the EU can get away with decades of tariffs and doing things like subsidizing Airbus illegally[1] is beyond me. Trump is the "bad guy" because he actually cares about American interests before those of the EU? How crazy. The EU member leaders are welcome to look after the best interests of their countries as well. There's nothing radical about that.

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/business-44120525


>Try to ship a spare part of a child's stroller from the US. I paid a $40 tax for a part that cost me $25. Duties, tariffs and other taxes are oppressive and the US should fight back

The US should fight back? Shouldn't EU consumers fight back against the actions of their government?

If a European country has a 10% tariff on American-made autos, who is the victim? The European auto buyer. Who is the beneficiary? The stockholder of the European auto manufacturer.


The victim is also the US manufacturer. So the EU is punishing EU buyers and US manufacturers to help EU manufacturers.


> "Trump invented tariffs" is the the current media narrative, but it's not even close to being true.

That's not the narrative. The narrative is the Trump idiotically thinks he can win a trade war through escalating high tariffs if his demands aren't met immediately. He is looking for short-term benefits instead of long-term benefits.


The biggest unintended (or perhaps intended?) consequence I expect is that companies that ship from China will pass the extra shipping fees along to the customer, either through higher prices in general, or higher add-on shipping fees. So in other words, many goods will just get more expensive. Having a USPS a bit more flush with cash might have other positive effects, though.

I also wonder how the private couriers (UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.) will react to this. Do they currently under-price a bit for shipments from some countries to the US in order to compete better with USPS? If so, they might consider raising prices if this goes through.

At the end of the day, though, shipping costs should accurately reflect the effort it takes to ship, and not be artificially depressed unless there's a good reason. It seems like (at least in the case of China) that good reason (under the assumption it was good in the first place) expired decades ago.


> I expect is that companies that ship from China will pass the extra shipping fees along to the customer

Right, which means that if other companies are selling similar products they can more fairly compete, since the cost of the Chinese product was literally being subsidized.

I see a lot of conversation about how "terrible" it is that tariff or shipping costs will be passed on to the US consumer, but I don't think that's an accurate picture. On one hand, sure if you can only buy a product only from China, then perhaps the company importing it and the company exporting it may raise prices to compensate. They may also not, because you might decide to find a substitute product or because a competitor's product becomes more attractive. They may raise the price, and then Chinese products become less competitive in the U.S. market anyway (assuming there are ready alternatives, which generally there is). Alternatively a higher price means that there may be more participants in the market since there is profit to be made. If prices are artificially low and you can compete on cost with exploitive labor, that's a market inefficiency that should be corrected.

For some reason people have this expectation or entitlement mentality that all of this stuff should be cheap, built on the backs of people who work incredibly hard for not a lot of money. Products naturally should be expensive unless labor is being exploited - people need to be paid a living wage, have good work conditions, and a great life. If that means buying a new set of wine glasses costs $25 instead of $4.99, then you need to spend money more wisely, or not buy the wine glasses, or make sure that you really want the wine glasses. Cheap products based on cheap fossil fuel energy and cheap, exploitive labor fuel consumerist consumption patterns.


Most of my more expensive Chinese made products are sent in with DHL, rarely FedEx. I expect they [DHL/FedEx] will see more volume in smaller packages as the artificially low USPS rates go away. Currently with USPS it costs more for me to send my next door neighbor the same package I can get from China, and I'm on the US East coast.


Yes, prices will normalize to reflect actual cost and not a subsidized rate. This is the fair outcome.


I was always under the impression that the UPU rules were (1) originally intended for letter-mail, not "stuff", and (2) originally intended to reduce USPS' last-mile delivery costs in other countries (which had to be negotiated country-by-country before).

If I live in America and my mother lives in some far-flung country, the idea is that we should be able to send each other letters at a cost that is proportional to typical incomes in our nations.

Both e-mail and e-commerce totally turned this on its head -- letter volumes went down, and we started buying things from China (as opposed to making things and sending them there). I agree that something needs to change, but I'm worried that the end result is other countries will just stop accepting Americans' mail.

It's worth noting that China is maybe #80 in GDP per capita?


It might be cheaper to ship from China to the US than to ship from Chicago to NY, but it is also far slower. I think it's fair to charge less for "as you have space" shipping. http://track-chinapost.com/?p=774

I've had a couple hundred small packages (components for prototypes, tools, etc.) shipped via China Post in the last few years, and only 2 of them arrived in less than 3 weeks. Several didn't arrive at all. I'm not willing to pay as much for that kind of service as I am to send a package from e.g. Chicago to NY with fast and reliable delivery.

The rates are probably unfairly low, but you can't look only at the price. You have to look at price, delivery speed, and reliability at a minimum.


You're missing the point. Shipping from LA to NYC in X days should be cheaper than shipping from Shanghai to LA in Y days PLUS shipping from LA to NYC in X days. China Post charges some amount to get from Shanghai to LA, and they do that slowly. At that point it enters the USPS system, and they deliver the package to its final destination in NYC. But by UPU rules, the USPS has to charge less for that China Post package than they do for a package that originated in LA, even though they use the same infrastructure.


Do you know what the rates are, relative to something like bulk mail? I can't think of anything else that has low delivery priority like these packages seem to have. Sometimes even after arriving in the US, the packages take 2-3 more weeks to be delivered though it's usually more like a week. I would say that indicates a lower priority than a comparable package that is sent within the US.

I guess I'm saying that China Post packages are not going from LA to NYC in X days, more like 2X or 3X and sometimes up to 5X. The rates are probably still too low, but I haven't found any authoritative numbers.


They are obviously playing by a totally different set of rules than we were. This is starting to even the playing field a little bit which we must do or get totally overtaken by China.


If you look at how the world is currently "overtaken" by the USA then realise that China has about the same land resources but 4+ times the population, then the unescapable conclusion is that China is bound to absolutely overtake the USA and the world. India probably is, too.


Considering their population has already stopped growing and will start to shrink starting in ~10 years and the US has population growth projected through at least 2050, I don't think that outcome is likely. China has still yet to escape the "Middle Income Trap". Their GDP per capita is terrible. The PRC as a state is wealthy, but the wealth per citizen is quite poor.


China's population is more than 1 billion larger than the USA's. Relative growth rates until the end of the century are irrelevant.

The fact that China is still relatively poor per capita while already being the 2nd largest economy overall shows the potential they have left to become the world's central economy (along with India's)

Squabbles about postage rates are distractions.


Population growth rates aren't irrelevant, as Japan's example should show. As the demographic pyramid stops being a pyramid and the retirees start outnumbering the 20-somethings, burdens to health care and other systems start to add up fast.

If your population keeps growing, you can keep some semblance of a pyramid shape. But if it's stagnant, and your people reliably survive into old age...


What's important here is the overall size of the country and its economy, not really its relative growth.

Switzerland's population might grow faster than the US's at some point, for example, but that'd be irrelevant because it is way too small in any case to threaten the US's position.


My point was that population demographics, which are related to growth rates, impact the efficiency of an economy, or at least the fraction that can be directed towards external ends and not health care for unproductive segments of society.


I think there may be some parallels to draw here with the USSR. The CCP is another top down model that has some advantages and some disadvantages compared with western liberal democracy. Can China convince countries to align with its goals? If they can do this better than the US then they will win.


The USSR had a comparable (corrected: not small as I first wrote) population and a small economy compared to the USA's. Moreover their economy was highly disfunctional.

It's a bit like all the fear mongering about Japan in the 80s. The hard truth is that Japan was way too small to be a threat.

China, on the other hand, is much bigger than the USA. The fact that the USA are currently so much stronger than China is therefore the anomaly in a historical perspective.


The USSR was the 3rd most populated country in 1990, ahead of the US. The US census calculated 248 million in 1990 vs 286 million for the USSR in 1989.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1990_United_States_Census

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Census_(1989)


The article gives only half of the facts. The universal postal union has already reclassified China as a "developed" country since 2018. Their terminal dues have already been increasing two years in a row and will continue to increase: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20967141


China's GDP per capita is behind Brazil's and 73rd overall, so I think there can be strong arguments to label it a developing country (and arguably, strong arguments for why "developing country" shouldn't be the metric used!). Just want to point out that merely circling a very large piece of land with a tremendous amount of people and saying "in absolute terms this area has a very big economy" is not necessarily a good metric.


Agreed. This loophole needed to be closed a long time ago. I hope other countries follow suit.


Shipping something from Germany to Argentina cost €3.70 recently; the same thing (a large padded envelope, about 400g) would appear to cost $7-8 if from Chicago to New York. If that's unfair, who's at fault?


Part of the reason interstate shipping is high is due to the fact that the USPS must ship below cost on these kind of international packages. One subsidizes the other.


Do you think you could estimate that part of the reason? "Part of the reason" could mean 1%, or equally well 99%.

EDIT: I ask because the Chicago-NY price is >100% above German international rates. >100% is a big number and German prices are high to begin with. That makes "part of" too fuzzy for my taste.


Germany privatized its postal service and now has one of the best postal services in the world. DHL is the German postal service.

Meanwhile, the US Postal service is a quasi-government agency that is predictably a mess. On one hand it is supposed to be self-sufficient but on the other hand it is burdened with federal agency restrictions or limitation. And, it distorts the mail market in general by having a government granted monopoly on regular mail.


That's interesting. Before about January of 2019, I was able to ship for about those rates to the U.S. Recently, I took an envelope to the German post office and was informed that the Global Postal Union has barred shipping of goods in envelopes at postal instead of package prices. I pay €16,- minimum whether in an envelope or a box but can send up to 2 kg of goodies.



>It naturally puts American businesses at a disadvantage.

Yes, but it puts American consumers at an advantage! Are there more consumers or businesses?

I only hope the small Chinese sellers will be able to send their packages thru Malaysia or Vietnam for reasonable rates.

I've noticed that some of my eBay purchases of Chinese stuff come via those countries, at least according to the return address on the package.


The actual cost to ship a package isn’t changing. Just who pays. Previously it’s all users of the US postal service, whether they are involved in shipments from China or not. It makes enormous sense to charge the person who is actually benefiting and not everyone.


> Yes, but it puts American consumers at an advantage! Are there more consumers or businesses?

Most American consumers are dependent on American businesses (including American subsidiaries of multinationals) for income, whether through labor or capital.


> Yes, but it puts American consumers at an advantage!

No, US customers are paying either way. Lower cost shipping from China was paid for by higher cost domestic shipping. AFAIK the USPS is not subsidized by either the American or Chinese governments.


> Yes, but it puts American consumers at an advantage! Are there more consumers or businesses?

Interesting perspective. I can see a parallel with healthcare insurance:

- one big non-profit subsidized provider -> cheap baseline service for the masses, third party providers cover for the niches of the market, third party providers forced to innovate

- lack of subsidies/regulation -> expensive baseline service for the masses, essentially the subsidy that gave you cheap service now becomes profit for the third party providers, no need to innovate when you can comfortably get rich by inflating the baseline service prices


> I'm not sure what the unintended consequences are but I believe this is the right move.

I don't know how that works. If you don't know the effects, how can you know it is a good action? Knee jerk actions tend to poorer results than well planned ones.


That works because almost all decisions are made without 100% certainty. "I'm not sure ... but I believe" is simply a statement of the obvious that everyone makes decisions with incomplete information.

Characterizing decisions made with incomplete information as "knee jerk" reactions is a bit much. That isn't to say that a certain amount of effort should be made to understand the consequences of any decision.


This problem effects a lot of other countries as well. For example Switzerland which is dealing with a huge amount of packages classified as mail but can't be run through automated sorting systems. Switzerland is putting the pressure on but it's a tiny country. The US jumping ship doesn't help anyone.

Switzerland is planning on charging receivers for the extra postage to make up for the huge losses until the postage union changes the rules. Why doesn't the US do something similar? They don't seem to have a problem applying tariffs on imports.


> Switzerland is planning on charging receivers for the extra postage to make up for the huge losses until the postage union changes the rules.

I'd like to know more, do you have a source? Could not find via Google.

Many postal services have a charge for customs clearance services, but I haven't heard of anyone charging extra postage yet.

> Why doesn't the US do something similar?

The U.S. STOP Act of 2018 established a fee of $1 for inbound EMS parcels starting in 2020 to cover customs processing costs. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr5788/summary

But as noted, customs processing fee is a bit different from charging extra postage. And I believe small letter post items are the bigger issue, not EMS.


Honestly, I don't think band-aiding a broken system is the solution here. "Hoping for a better outcome later" is not what I want to see when we're directly subsidizing our biggest competitor, economically and democratically speaking.


It's not just unfair; it's also bad for the environment. Shipping stuff from the other side of the world costs more in transportation and thus fuel than shipping domestically or locally. If we want environmental costs to be transparent, the real environmental cost (of shipping and other products or services) needs to be reflected in the price, which means it shouldn't be kept artificially low.

I may disagree with Trump on almost everything, but this might be the one area where I actually agree. I have no idea whether this is the best or most effective approach, but I do agree that this is an issue that needs to be fixed.


Agreed, 100%, and certainly hoping there is no last-minute action. The change is sorely needed and long overdue.


Planet Money on NPR did an episode on the UPU and the impact on the US at https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2018/08/01/634737852/epis...

It's worth a listen to. I learned that it can be cheaper to ship things from China than across the street. In the episode the break down some elements of the UPU, where costs are, and who pays for things.


Traffickers were using the UPU to ship Fentanyl into the US from China, because are almost zero inspections compared to private shipping companies. This action may still be a pretext in the trade war, but it seems like it could slow down the overdoses significantly, so I'm all for it.

https://www.lawfareblog.com/withdrawal-universal-postal-unio...


I'm sure they could just as easily route it through Mexican cartel channels or other commercial vectors just as easily.

At the end of the day it will never be economical to search more than even 1% package and port crate or non-commercial boat coming into the US shores. Those packages will still get through and millions of dollars of Fentynal can be hidden in small packages.

The supply of drugs to America has never been seriously hampered for long by decades of advanced drug interdiction tactics.


Good! No longer will we be ripped off by funding shipping from China to the US with taxpayer money.

I actually think it would be better to stay in the agreement with most countries but slap a "transport fee" or creatively name it, on all the things coming from China, and use that to pay for the shipping cost. It should be looked at on a country by country basis, where countries we export more than import to get to send for free.


I think you're getting downvoted because of the use of the word "taxpayer."

The USPS is not funded by taxes.


The USPS is exempt from paying federal taxes therefore we are subsidizing it. "The United States Postal Service (USPS; also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Postal Service) is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for providing postal service in the United States, including its insular areas and associated states. It is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution."

It is essentially a public service built to deliver our packages with special federal provisions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Postal_Service#L...


The USPS exists to serve the public good rather than to enrich shareholders. Why should the USPS pay taxes when non-profits don't?


They could be using money to deliver packages better (faster, tracking improvements, 24 hour delivery) instead of paying for China to dump products here.


> American taxpayers subsidize the USPS at a rate that surpasses the costs associated with any Congressional mandate. He estimates that, all told, the subsidies and legal monopolies that Congress bestows upon the post office is worth $18 billion annually. https://fortune.com/2015/03/27/us-postal-service/


This is a Republican talking point. The bans that prevent the Post Office from doing logical things like being a local bank of last resort, becoming an identity broker and online access provider, etc. would more than make the Post Office viable and dwarf any so-called subsidy.

In reality, a bunch of Republican dipshits are jealous of some of the real estate that the Post Office is sitting on and they are trying very hard to hose the Post Office finances to make them sell it.


So your argument is that the post office could be profitable if it were allowed to be more than a post office? Yeah I agree with that, but it doesn't really say anything about whether the USPS in reality has a net cost on tax payers.


USPS is actually adequately funded. However, a Republican congress saddled them with having to fund 70 years of pensions up front, something that Republicans somehow don't seem to care about when the pension obligations belong to a company like Bethlehem Steel.

In addition, we fund the Post Office in order to maintain connection to those parts of the country that profit wouldn't connect. So, ironically, if we demand that the Post Office be more profitable, the first people to suffer would be those calling for its head. But, then, that's become pretty much standard operating procedure in US politics.

And, historically in the US, a Post Office generally was more than just mail. You could go there to pay your bills, send money, etc. This is an artifact of the Post Office generally being associated with the General Store.

For example, it pains me to see all the "Paycheck Cashing" places that are so predatory when the Post Office could do this effectively for free and make money on the float.


But we certainly fund the government that mis-manages the USPS.


The big problem with this theory is that building manufacturing in the United States will be expensive, and if the next president is going to undo this, then what’s the point of building it? It could be less expensive to weather through those 4 years.

edit: could, not would


My wishful thinking is move more of the manufacturing onshore and use automation to reduce costs yet give blue collar workers some opportunities. Also favoring trade relationships with all our neighboring countries as a substitute to China.


But once you have manufacturing in the US it can be cheaper. US manufacturing needs to be very automated because of labor costs, but if you are very automated the US is a useful place to be located: close to your customers, who speak the same language. (of course Europe is also a potential customer and so the location advantage is lost)

Of course this assumes that you have a process that can be automated cost effectively. That assumption is often false.


It's expensive because we can't get away with the labor rates that China does-- for building infrastructure, acquiring raw materials, and employing a workforce with benefits and pensions and unions. China has less bureaucratic overhead (in terms of factories/mines not caring about pollution) and a more driven, obedient workforce (i.e. they will work harder expecting less pay). I'm not saying those are good things, just facts as I see them. I don't know if this is a true dichotomy, but on the surface it seems that we either pay more at all levels to employ our own citizenry in manufacturing these goods, or we let our manufacturing capabilities and professions atrophy. This may actually be a good (roundabout) way to ensure that greener manufacturing is used, by making us design manufacturing these capabilities by our standards.


Do you know that the next president is going to undo this? If the bar for action is that someone might undo it in the future, why do anything?


You have to make a decision given the information you have. You can chose to wait, but that is a decision. You will always have to choose again in the future based on new information, but often once you set a plan in motion you should continue even if though without the sunk costs of the past you wouldn't.

I don't know who the next President will be. The current president could die in an hour. The current president could win or lose re-election. The current president could become a military dictator for life. The above applies to any president of any country (not just Trump). You have to decide what the risk of each is and prepare accordingly.


This is a weekness in our current system that has been exploited. It's a strategic national security concern and is finally being treated as such. China has "Made in China 2025" we should do the same and it should be supported by whatever measures are necessary. The alternative is that CCP will take Americas place in regards to global geopolitics.


The current pricing system is nuts, the European nations should consider doing the same. In Denmark, sending a package within the country (a country the size of Maryland), is more expensive than getting one sent around the world from China.


You'll notice all those cheap packages from China come stamped "Petit Paquet," which is to say surfaces mail. Now go to the post office and try to ship something out surface mail and you will find it's impossible... express service is the ONLY way that the USPS will ship internationally, as of a decade or so ago. You cannot compare shipping prices to and from China because you are comparing two totally different services. If the USPS would once again start doing surface mail abroad it might be possible for American companies to sell small items abroad again.


Yikes. This seems to set a bad precedence.

For the majority the union's existence, the US has had the net benefit. It doesn't benefit us anymore? Time to leave. It just reinforces the idea that the US only participates in the world when it unilaterally benefits us.


What other countries have a record of regularly doing things that cause direct harm to itself for the greater good of other countries?


> that cause direct harm to itself for the greater good of other countries?

That's not what he said. "unilaterally benefits us." This agreement greatly benefited the US which is why we were in it this long.


Which is exactly what the president campaigned on and presumably why his voters voted for him.

And that's not strictly accurate. The US is only pulling out, something they announced a year ago, if a new deal cannot be made.


Get your Aliexpress and Banggood orders in ASAP!


Whatever you do, do not order from gearbest. (See r/gearbest for the horror stories)


Wonder if they get flagged for fraud or charge backs a lot. I ordered an item from them about a year ago. The second I hit the submit button on the order form, my phone rang (it was somewhat creepy how quick the phone call came). It was my bank checking to make sure it was a valid transaction. I've never had them call me to verify a transaction before. This was from an automated system but I received a follow up call the next day from a human double checking that it was a valid transaction. It was for maybe about $50 and everything went smoothly but it is interesting that they were instantly tagged for a fraud alert.


They get chargebacks a lot because they don't ship in a reasonable amount of time. See the subreddit for other horror stories. You're much better at buying from a random Aliexpress seller.

EDIT: You also see it with places like Eurorail pass. They often times don't deliver. I rarely ever get fraud alerts. Which is suprising (I'll outright buy a flight ticket out of the country in a different currency without notification to the CC).


Its 50/50 in my experience..


I've never shopped on these sites. What are people typically buying? Is there something I should be stocking up on?


Basically every single thing you buy in a store, is also available, at around 1/10 the price, at these sites.

The next time you need a kitchen gadget, tool, measuring cup, belt, socks, pencil. Anything. Buy it on aliexpress and save a ton, in exchange for very long shipping times, and you pretty much can't return anything (you can get refunds for defective stuff, but not for wrong size/color etc).

And it's not just a Chinese clone of the item, it's the exact same item, with a different name printed on it.


Oh gosh.

Head over to banggood.com and see what you've been missing.


Are any such companies like this listed on a US stock exchange? I'm thinking this has got to hit some companies with serious risk to sales or profit?


Alibaba is on NYSE as BABA (AliExpress is the internationally facing version of Alibaba/Taobao)


Every electronics I ever tried to buy cheap from China (e.g. from dhgate.com) has been broken. I have literally never seen an electronics that is remotely close to working from this source. I do believe that you can get something if you're lucky; but even after reading reviews and seeing good ones I got USBs that are not working (I tried to buy them out of curiosity, I just spent $10 or something).


Ohh NO. Does this mean I won't be able to get a 79 cent LED bike light shipped from Chi na to my seaside Bulgarian Village (or Vancouver, Canada apartment) for free anymore?


No. The USA might pull out, not Bulgaria or Canada.


That's great news for anyone looking for business opportunities. Just start selling all the stuff to Europeans that so far was too cheap to ship over from the US. /s


Good and bad.

I find it quite useful to purchase parts and goods directly from China at 1/10 the cost of buying the exact same Chinese made goods from a middleman for 10x more.

Now if I was buying non-Chinese goods that would be a different issue of course. But such are not available, nor will changing shipping costs make these goods made in USA.

Going forward we will be able to buy the exact same Chinese goods as before, but at much greater cost. However it will enrich middlemen whom we didn't need before.

In any case this will mostly affect small shipments. Larger shipments than China Post air packets (let's say 2-20kg) currently are sent through services like DHL and SF Express. SF Express is able to handle mid size (>1kg) packages economically. They send a container load of Chinese goods to the US at which point they are broken out and dropped into the US postal service, paying full domestic rate at that point.

Pulling out of this treaty will also affect our costs of shipping overseas. Granted we don't ship to China so much but we do ship other places. Also things like buying books from UK booksellers, and selling books to the UK, is feasible under this treaty. That will be less feasible. Prices will go up. Which has its advantages and disadvantages.


This is probably going to hurt China big time. They will either have to open US warehouses or China will subsidize shipping even more.


China will just pool shipments to US ports and mail them from inside.


That's just as expensive as it is for US shippers now, so it doesn't fix anything.

Source: I ship 10K+ packages overseas per month using that exact method.


Maybe his idea was that domestic postage fees would go down, so that this would be economically viable.


Isn't that what people want to happen?


No more 1 dollar 4 week shipping from Hong Kong?


For products that currently cost $1 to order from China, what will be the typical cost after this change?


Let's say that $1.00 item now costs $5.00 with shipping after the change.

How much would that item cost to purchase and ship here in the USA?

I always use the example of Ametek vs TSiny - they are both DC electric gearmotor manufacturers, both are fairly international, but Ametek is headquartered in America, and TSiny in China.

They make comparable products, though I would have to say that the quality of the Ametek brands could be said to be better.

That's where things kinda stop.

If you purchased (from a supplier/vendor) a single TSiny motor, it might cost you right now $15.00 USD, and free shipping. An equivalent motor from Ametek, however, might cost you anywhere from $50.00 to $75.00 USD before shipping.

So - if the shipping of that motor from TSiny rises to say, $5.00 USD, and they also increase the cost of the motor by $5.00 USD (just because they can) - now that same motor costs $25.00 USD.

Versus $50.00-75.00 USD (sans shipping) for the USA made motor from Ametek.

I'm a company in the USA that builds widgets with motors in them - which supplier should I go with, assuming comparable products, in order to make the better profit?

Hint: It ain't gunna be Ametek, unless they can offer a sweetheart deal for me...


It is a bit too early to say. :-)

But inter-US rates for a 1oz to 4oz "letter package" are from $3.66 - $4.06.

So if a Chinese company opened a US warehouse, that is what it would cost for inter-US shipping.

If it is not too thick, you can send 'flats' for $1.00 to $1.50

https://www.nerdylorrin.net/jerry/postages/


Have the USPS decided which UPU member they would route their international mail through?


I know the concern is about parcels specifically, but doesn't this agreement also cover all international mail?

Is the US going to be essentially cut off from international mail delivery until the USPS can negotiate pricing and a contract with each individual country's postal service (i.e., not in place over Christmas)?


I wonder if this would spur the creation of shipping consolidation centers in China, where orders from multiple vendors (on a site like AliExpress/Alibaba/DHGate) are combined into a single box before sending (like Fullfilled by Amazon tries to do)


You'll notice all those cheap packages from China come stamped "Petit Paquet," which is to say surface mail. Now go to the post office and try to ship something out surface mail and you will find it's impossible... express service is the ONLY way that the USPS will ship internationally, as of a decade or so ago. You cannot compare shipping prices to and from China because you are comparing two totally different services. If the USPS would once again start doing surface mail abroad it might be possible for American companies to sell small items abroad again.


Goodbye Wish?


More than just Wish. There's more than a few companies in the US whose business model revolves around cheap (total cost, including shipping) goods from China.


I wonder what this is going to do to US electronics/devices manufacturing. If companies were previously importing some/all of their components and then building the final product here, will they just move assembly & mfg overseas to only get dinged once instead of eating massive costs on the import of every component?


These are not component tariffs, and in any case, importing container loads of components is not "post" anyway; if it didn't come with USPS, this has nothing to do with it.


How much of this stuff do you thing will be sent through the postal service? If you have large quantities and heavy stuff you use commercial shipping.

The ones it impacts the most are the resellers who sell direct to customers on Amazon, Etsy or Ebay.


Checkout Bright Machines. There are several reasons why people want to onshore. Supply chain security is a major factor.


That seems unlikely to me.. If you manufacture, you order components in bulk or they are large and expensive if it is a capital good. Things like small generalist repair shops lose out.


No, that hit has already been taken. The trump tariffs already added tariffs on the electronics components, hurting the US manufacturing of any electronics already.


Only for manufacturers and resellers, from what I read. If it's for domestic use and not resale, then you shouldn't have to pay the tariff to import the item.

Problem is - once the tariffs on the electronic components and other similar items went into effect, Chinese vendors - even those selling to individuals - raised their prices.

Still - it's cheaper for me as a hobbyist to buy these parts from China, than it is from anywhere else here in the United States. Sometimes, for certain parts, you can get it cheaper from Mouser or Digi-key, but that's really rare, and usually limited to fairly "new on the market" parts (those introduced in the last 10-15 years). But anything older (ie - PDIP 5 volt TTL/CMOS variant ICs - for instance), it's cheaper to go to China (usually, they aren't even available via major parts suppliers anyhow) - or if you're lucky, you can find it surplus domestically.

So even if it now adds an extra $5.00 for shipping an epacket from China - the parts, components, modules, motors, whatever - are still going to be much, much cheaper than the USA version (in most cases, unobtanium anyhow).

All these changes have done - at least with electronics - is make it more expensive for hobbyists; small manufacturers will get a break on the shipping (at least competition-wise - in theory - because they'll still be paying the same, maybe a little less - and China will be paying more), but they still have the tariffs working against them (because they can't buy their parts here in the USA cheaper than what they can get them for from China - even with tariffs and shipping costs).

The only ones who might "win" here are larger manufacturers - but I'm not sure how many of those we really have (in the electronics realm - that is, who make Arduinos here in the USA besides maybe Adafruit and SparkFun?) - but I doubt even they will "win".

I really think this is going to end up being a net overall loss for the USA, that it will do nothing to stimulate manufacturing, and that shipments from China will hardly slow at all.

It's crazy in my view - it's like none of our lawmakers have stepped foot in Shenzhen, where there are litteral multi-story buildings where vendors sell nothing but LEDs, where if you need a particular screw purchased or specially made, you can walk a block or two and find a manufacturer and it can probably be pumped out by the end of the day. It is literally a city for hi-tech manufacturing, supply, design, tooling, you-name-it-you-can-get-it-there-and-cheap. A maker/hobbyist/hacker's fantasy dream 24/7 technology store city-sized.

They can't seem to understand that if you wanted to have any hope of replicating what China is doing, you'd have to literally build something (with ports) the size of Los Angeles that does almost nothing but design and manufacture cutting edge technology and parts 24/7 - using everything from people who live in the factories to lights-out robotic systems.

In other words, it ain't ever happening here - never.


Any large-scale logistics (e.g. bigger than a garage-scale operation) will be handled via international freight brokers -- not USPS.

So components should be largely unaffected.


Nothing, only small orders are subsidized. Not bulk orders

( from experience)


If those companies deserve a subsidy, then do it directly, not through the post office.


I wouldn't think this would affect it at all. Any serious manufacturing operation will be moving freight, which isn't at issue here.


Here is something practically all news article about China exploiting these low terminal dues fail to reveal:

Since 2018 the UPU moved 40 countries, including China, to a new tier and this actually is causing them to already pay higher terminal dues. This decision was made in resolution C 7/2016, see the list of 40 countries in "group III" at page 212 of http://www.upu.int/uploads/tx_sbdownloader/actCompendiumDeci...

The tiers that countries are classified into are called "transitional" (developing country) and "target" (developed countries.) Transitional countries pay lower terminal dues. Target countries pay higher terminal dues. The longer you have been a target country the higher are your terminal dues. And again, China has been a "target" (developed) country since 2018. This is explained in http://www.upu.int/uploads/tx_sbdownloader/questionnaireTdrA...:

Countries in the target tier prior to 2010 pay the most

Countries that entered the target tier between 2010 and 2012 pay less

Countries that entered the target tier after 2016 pay even less

Countries that are still in the transitional tier pay the least

Every few years these dates change (by approving agreements amongst UPU members) and countries pay more and more. So everything is set for China (and 39 other countries) to pay more and more as the years go by, since they've been moved to the target tier in 2018.

This 2015 USPS report explains it (https://www.uspsoig.gov/sites/default/files/document-library...): «Forty of these countries, including all of the BRICS except for India, will join the target tier next year. However, moving these countries to the target category may not immediately lead to significant terminal dues payment increases. The UPU Congress will approve new rates, for the period from 2018 to 2021, next year — meaning implementation is 2 to 6 years after a decision. The new target countries may continue to have an advantage during this period.»

Keep in mind this USPS report was written in 2015. This is now 2019 so the terminal dues have already been increasing 2 years in a row (2018 and 2019) and will continue to increase until 2021: https://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/terminal-dues-time-end-dr...

They increase 13% every year. In 2019 they are up 27.7% since 2017. In 2021 they will have increased 63% since 2017.

So the reality is that the US leaving the UPU is no because China pays low terminal dues. They want a deeper reform that address other issues as stated by the 2015 USPS report: excluding packages (as opposed to letters) from terminal dues, stopping private carriers from being at a disadvantage compared to national posts who receive terminal dues, etc


> stopping private carriers from being at a disadvantage compared to national posts who receive terminal dues, etc

So, basically private carriers lobbying US govt. to handle them the baseline postal service market.


that means aliexpress and those purchases from HongKong will get much more expensive I guess? good for US exports I hope, assuming we will start making things here again.


that will help 'made-in-usa', or at least, 'make in mexico' assuming they can get the drug-war-violence under control, which is unlikely considering the drug dealers have much better weapons than the government army nowadays.




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