Speech by UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein, Chongqing, China

The Mayor of Chongqing Municipal Government,

 

The Deputy Director of China State Post Bureau,

 

The President of China Post Group,

 

CEOs and senior officials of designated postal operators and other operators,

 

Distinguished Participants,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me start by thanking the organizers of this high level forum on e-commerce here in Chongqing, China, for your vision. I am also grateful for your invitation to UPU to participate in the forum.

This forum is important to UPU for two reasons:

One, the participants are drawn from among some of the largest postal operators in the world with the largest e-commerce traffic. And two, the topics under discussion - cross-border trade, challenges and opportunities of e-commerce, mail transportation, remuneration and innovation - are topics that the UPU is focusing on as areas of priority for the international post.

In our new UPU strategy, which will come into force next year, e-commerce is the priority focus number one for all our members. Last year, the  UPU organized a strategy conference and seven regional round tables across all regions of the world. All the regions unanimously identified e-commerce as their main priority for growth and profitability.

In the commercial sphere, cross border and international trade has been increasing in all parts of the world in the past decade and we see access to electronic information as the key driver ofthis. This combination has helped spur e-commerce.

For the UPU and, indeed all postal organizations, this trend in economic growth poses challenges that call for a review of various rules so as to ensure more efficient management of end-to-end transactions. Lack of transparency about rules and regulations, redundant and lengthy clearance processes and multiple documents requirements in different formats and with different data elements, increase the costs and time of doing trade. These artificial barriers are not good for business.

Governments and regulators, thus, have greater responsibility to facilitate this new direction of trade by making trans-border trade faster, less costly and more predictable while ensuring safety and security.

The UPU definition of trade facilitation is “the simplification, standardization and harmonization of procedures and associated information flows required to move goods from seller to buyer and to make payment”. Such a definition implies that not only the physical movement of goods is important in a supply chain, but also the associated information flows.

Currently, it does seem that the market is ahead of governments and regulators, in that it has already created global demand for goods and services; thanks to the readily available electronic information on what is on offer and who needs it. For this business to thrive, a lot of work is urgently required to bring about conducive regulatory and customs framework to allow more innovations, especially on cross border and international trade.

To facilitate this global market, it is our view at UPU that there is need for greater collaboration of all players. At the same time we have to modernize our posts businesses so as to enable adaptation to this global collaboration.

Better access to international trade requires a global solution that includes efficient and effective partnerships with all stakeholders in the e-commerce supply chain – from e-retailers, logistics, airlines, customs and border control, payments, to the last mile delivery and returns. All related industries need to work together to ensure the free flow of items and making services available to all citizens around the world. The postal network is an essential link in this global supply chain.

It is for this reason that UPU has for the past one year partnered with other relevant institutions to work on the project of transporting mail items by rail from the People’s Republic of China to Europe. Suffice to say that the postal rail project is part of the UPU’s strategy to promote innovative products and services, especially those aimed at facilitating international e-commerce.

I would like at this juncture to thank China and all the member countries that are associated with this continental post rail project for taking leadership and starting the project with their pilot shipments. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to tour the ultramodern e-commerce facility here in Chongqing and got first-hand information on how the infrastructure works. I have no doubt that the future of postal e-commerce is within our grasp if only we can collaborate effectively with this facility and many like it in china and elsewhere in other UPU member states.

I also believe this project will increase confidence of online retailers for using rail to transport  their merchandize at reasonable cost. This will provide a unique opportunity for small and micro, small and medium enterprises to export their goods through the new postal rail transportation system.

I have to emphasise that the success of the rail post project will highly depend on efficient and effective partnerships among the various collaborators involved. High on this list is an efficient trans-border facilitation, inspection and clearance. It is for this reason that UPU is bringing in various partners to collaborate on this project.

I am confident that the Post project will positively transform e-commerce because of the many advantages that rail transport has, compared to other existing modes of postal transportation. The rail option is also more environmental friendly compared to the other existing modes of postal transportation.

I wish to conclude my remarks by informing you that next month UPU will be holding a forum in Moscow in collaboration with CCTT on rail post project and hope to see you there so that together we can help shape this new delivery system for the benefit of the post and e-commerce in particular. Thank you for your attention. I wish you fruitful deliberations.