Workshop on e-commerce readiness for Pacific region, June 2018

Speech by the UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein, on the occasion of the UPU sub-regional meeting on important policy issues, Nadi, Fiji, 18 June 2018

Mr. Jitendra Sign, the Permanent Secretary for Public Enterprises of Fiji

Mr. Lawrence Tikaram, Executive Chairman, Post Fiji

CEOs of the designated operators of Pacific countries,

Dear delegates,

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to address this UPU’s sub-regional meeting for Pacific Islands.  I am greatly honoured by the excellent reception and hospitality accorded to me and my team by Fiji authorities since my arrival yesterday. I wish to thank the Fiji government and Fiji Post for the good organization of this meeting.

I am also very delighted for my visit to Fiji and the Pacific in general. This is the first ever visit by UPU Director General and I am glad to see the good attendance from postal administrations in the region at this forum.

On behalf of UPU, it is my responsibility to ensure that all members of the Union are given equitable treatment and attention in helping them develop and modernize their postal services. My visit here was to get a first-hand appreciation of issues affecting the region so as to enable UPU design better intervention programmes, where required.

The Asia-Pacific is one of the biggest UPU regions. The region is home to over 4 billion people (more than half of the world population) and a postal network of 361,069 permanent post offices, which represent more than half of the global postal network. The region is also the highest contributor to the global e-commerce at 46.5% of B2C online transactions.  E-commerce in the region is growing at double digits annually.

Because of the importance of the region, UPU has in the last cycle (2013 – 2016) and the current cycle (2017 – 2020) devoted substantial resources to assist the posts in various ways.

During the 2013-2016 cycle,

  • UPU organized three Quality of Service workshops in Nadi, 2014 and 2015, and in Auckland in 2015. We also held IPS.POST training workshop in Samoa in 2016.  During the period a total of 26 fellowships were provided to the DOs in the Pacific for these workshops.
  • Additionally, UPU provided 29 fellowships for the training courses at the Asian Pacific Postal College in Bangkok.
  • For the LDC counties in Pacific, Multi-Year Integrated project was implemented for Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu for procurement of equipment, consultancy mission and APPC training course fellowship worth 60,000 CHF each.

For the 2017-2020 cycle, UPU has increased its engagement with the region in response to the special needs identified.

I am happy to inform you that in this cycle we have provided more than 40 fellowships to the DOs in the Pacific for attending workshops compared to 26 fellowships during the last cycle.

As for the APPC training assistance for Pacific, UPU continues to provide fellowships for attending the APPC training courses in Bangkok.

For the LDC counties in Pacific, we have started the LDC Action Plan project for Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu for procurement of equipment and for training course fellowship with 60,000 CHF for each country.

Our main focus this cycle is to support the Posts in strengthening their e-commerce business. To this end, UPU has launched Operational Readiness for E-commerce (ORE) Project as an integrated initiative covering all-important aspects of the postal business. This will address quality, reliability and general operational efficiency of the post that are key to successful e-commerce deployment.

The ORE training will be part of the programmes for this meeting. In this programme, UPU is taking a global and integrated approach, based on market and customer focus, towards the development of an intelligent postal e-commerce network for cross-border e-commerce. The aim is to use the multifunctional integrated postal infrastructure for simple, reliable access to postal services for everyone around the globe to meet the aspirations of member countries that have made e-commerce their priority for the 2017-2020 cycle.

The project is built on the following five important pillars namely,

  • Minimum operational requirements
  • Visibility - EDI messages, Track & Trace, reporting systems
  • Data quality
  • Supply chain integration and
  • E2E   Reliability

To help address the issue of funding for the upgrading of postal infrastructure, the QSF Program Manager is here to assist DOs in the region to formulate QSF projects that will help improve their operational capacity.

The new QSF model approved by the 2016 Istanbul Congress, introduced a Common Fund as well as further expanding the scope of the fund for the implementation of all quality of service projects. Starting this cycle, the scope of fundable projects now cover inbound and outbound mail as well as strengthening the supply chain infrastructure and e-commerce network.

The total QSF capital available for countries in the Pacific region is at the tune of USD 1.014 million. So far, a total of 21 QSF projects have been implemented in the Asia Pacific region, comprising among other activities, mail delivery improvement, IPS implementation, transportation, IT equipment and implementation of GMS.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to note that this region has particularly suffered a spate of natural disasters incidences in the recent years. Without a disaster-resilient network, there can be no development of the post and of e-commerce. That is why UPU, with assistance from Japan, has developed a technical assistance program specifically for disaster risk management.  The program avails up to 50,000 Swiss francs for disaster preparedness assistance. I urge countries in the region that have suffered bad natural disaster incidences to make the best use of this technical assistance by sending in their proposal to UPU for consideration.  We will be announcing the selected projects within a few months time.

The regional workshop on Postal Financial Services (PFS) development and UPU trademark implementation in the Pacific region will also be taking place at this forum based on numerous requests from the Pacific countries.

Apart from sharing with you information on technical assistance in the region, I would also wish to apprise you on the key development at the UPU since the Istanbul Congress held in 2016. As you will recall the Congress endorsed a number of proposals that are aimed at creating more efficiency in the working structure of the Union. We have started implementing these measures with marked success. As approved by the Congress, we have introduced working methods that aim at result-oriented meetings and reduced overlaps in decision-making functions of our two councils.

Moreover, our work can now be measured effectively at every session to determine our levels of success. This has been very useful for members and the International Bureau as we now can determine areas of weakness and intervene in good time. On this score, I would like to thank members of UPU from this region for actively supporting our reform proposal that has brought about all these benefits.

As you may be aware there will be a UPU extraordinary Congress in September.  This Congress has been called to address five very important issues that need urgent attention and on which we have been working on as directed by the Istanbul Congress. These five important issues are;

  • Reform of UPU
  • Financing of the Union
  • Provident Scheme
  • Integrated Product Plan and
  • Integrated Remuneration

During the course of the day today, we will discuss all these five issues so that you can better understand them ahead of the Extra-ordinary Congress.

The agenda of the Extraordinary Congress will address not only the governance of the Union but also equity in a representation of members, financial sustainability of UPU as well as the proposed product plans and its related remuneration in the face of growing e-commerce.

I wish to urge you to consider participating in this important meeting and add your voice to the key decisions that will affect all designated postal operators including those in the Pacific.

It is my desire to see a UPU where all regions have equitable representation in the decision-making bodies of the union based on the universally accepted principles enshrined in our constitution. I urge you to play an active role in reforming our union. Let us know how we can support you to effectively play this role.

As I conclude, I wish to thank all the nine countries from this region that are represented in this forum for finding time and resources to attend this important meeting. I would like to encourage you to attend UPU meetings so as to learn about the various initiatives that the Union is putting in place to help members.

With these few remarks, I wish you fruitful deliberations and thank you for your attention.