E-commerce workshop for Latin America and the Caribbean

Message from UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein, Bridgetown, Barbados, 15 - 17 March 2016

I wish to thank the management of the Barbados Post, and the coordinator of the Caribbean Postal Training Centre for hosting this important regional forum which is organized as part of the joint UPU, CPU and PUASP efforts to assist countries and their designated operators in this region to develop and implement appropriate products enabling efficient involvement in domestic and international e-commerce on the basis of standards set by the UPU, which is in line with market and customer requirements and also facilitates trade and access to international markets for the region’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by introducing simplified channels for the export of goods through the postal network and improving the overall compatibility of the regional postal supply chain with e-commerce.

My thanks also go to the secretaries general of the CPU and PUASP for their support in conducting today’s event, and to the distinguished guests present, and all of the event's participants and organizers.

The international postal environment is changing and is becoming increasingly competitive. As you know, global letter volumes have declined in recent years, largely as a result of technological advancements which are catalysts of change in how people communicate and do business. Indeed, the latest UPU statistics show letter volumes continuing to go down, while packets and parcels traffic is going up. However, e-commerce is also opening up new opportunities, with business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) merchandise traffic set to take off. Traffic of international packages, including small packets – which travel in the letter-post stream – are on a two-digit increase. This e-commerce boom is generating more business for Posts as they deliver purchases made online, especially for the B2C market.

Technology is also opening access to world markets for consumers and merchants alike. The postal network is an important national infrastructure in every country, providing affordable and universal postal services to all citizens and businesses. This network is well positioned to serve this market transformation and to deliver e-commerce merchandise universally. This, together with the ubiquitous reach of the international postal network, provides governments of UPU member countries with opportunities to move forward on public policy objectives related to developing and supporting regional, small business and trade-based economic growth and social inclusion.

A fully integrated end-to-end postal supply chain will facilitate e-commerce growth through efficient cooperation between postal operators and supply chain partners such as airlines and customs to ensure that the opportunities created by e-commerce are captured. All this requires coordinated efforts and targeted actions by all stakeholders, who should lend their support to the development of e-commerce within the region by overcoming the existing inconsistencies in pricing and quality of service, and secure processing and delivery networks, providing MSMEs with affordable and high-quality cross-border parcels, small packets and express delivery services by supporting them in developing their own e-commerce offerings through online platforms and specific web portals.

At a major UPU e-commerce forum last March, market representatives pleaded for simpler, reliable and cost-effective postal services to expand an already booming domestic business beyond national borders.

The UPU acted to respond to this request.

The development goals for e-commerce services are directly related to Goal 3 of the Doha Postal Strategy, adopted by the 25th UPU Congress. Congress confirmed the priority nature of e-commerce development by adopting an overall objective aimed at putting in place measures to support international e-commerce growth and stimulating Posts to respond to the growth of e-commerce. Within the framework of resolutions 11, 31, 32 and 33 of 2012, the 25th UPU Congress decided on the principal areas of action as follows:

  • Postal market development and worldwide postal trade facilitation for MSMEs;
  • Development of e-commerce;
  • Exploiting the postal opportunities offered by the growth of e-commerce through the remodelling and modernization of the UPU lightweight package services (small packets, lightweight parcels and EMS items);
  • Promoting cross-border e-commerce.

UPU will support the coordinated actions for growth of e-commerce and MSME business development.

The overall objective is to make use of the postal network's vast infrastructure to promote the social and economic development of countries.

For e-commerce, the goal is to support the creation of efficient mechanisms and tools to assist the countries of the region in implementing e-commerce services.

For MSME business development, the goal is to ensure increased awareness with regard to the ExportaFácil methodology for postal trade facilitation.

With the rapid development of the ECOMPRO programme, the UPU adapted already the regulatory framework and based on the feedback from Posts, e-retailers and customers.

The Postal Technology Centre has equally adapted its set of IT tools and provides already an integrated software suite to support e-commerce offerings of our designated operators.

To conclude, the UPU will provide postal operators with the ongoing assistance and tools needed to acquire professional expertise that will allow them to improve quality and modernize the postal services in order to better meet customer expectations in an evolving postal market.

I urge you to continue improving postal services in your countries and in the regions, and, to this end, the UPU experts are at your disposal for any information or assistance you may require.

I wish you a productive workshop and hope that you come out with concrete actions that will help develop the postal network in the region, help growth of e-commerce in the region, and increase MSME inclusion in this important economic opportunity.

Thank you for your attention.