UPU conference underscores need for modern postal regulation

The UPU Conference on Postal Regulation brought together representatives from postal operators, regulators and governments to discuss regulatory changes needed to maintain the sustainability of the Post amid recent, notable changes in the market.

UPU Director General Masahiko Metoki opened the conference, underlining the key factors confronting regulators in the modern postal marketplace.
“We are all familiar with the challenges that postal entities have been facing since the end of the last century. These challenges have generated a need for multilateralism in order to resolve new issues and conflicts, as well as the establishment of modern regulatory frameworks and the reform of the postal sector,” said the UPU Director General.
The sector has recently faced the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, deflation, stagflation and the rapid decline of letter-mail volumes, which comprise the lion’s share of postal revenues.
The first panel, moderated by Canada Post General Manager for International Relations Rajeev Venugopal, provided a global and regional overview of recent developments in policy and regulation related to the universal postal service. The panel featured insights from Copenhagen Economics Director Bruno Basalisco, Cullen International Director of European Relations Peter Dunn and Principal Administrator of the European Commission Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Robert Pochmarski.
Basalisco presented the results of a recent study on the pandemic’s impacts on the postal sector regulation, noting the positive developments implemented in response to rapid changes in customer needs. However, he noted that regulation in some cases lagged behind postal innovation.
“Many postal operators indicated the existing [regulatory] frameworks were not fit for purpose,” he said.
In addition to this, speakers highlighted a need to find a balance between requirements of the universal service obligation defined by regulators and flexibility to innovate – otherwise, more support from the government would be needed.
Dunn added that, regulation shouldn’t hinder the Post from filling a gap in the market, while Pochmarski warned that the sustainability of the sector was in jeopardy if postal regulation was not modernized.
The second panel, moderated by Egypt Post Head of International Cooperation Nermin Hassan, examined co-regulation and other regulatory approaches. Hassan was joined by Senior Director for Market Access and Competition Development from Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority Ong Ton San, Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission Allison Levy and Postal Services Manager of Uruguay’s communications services regulator Luis González.
The second session emphasized that postal regulation should not take place in a vacuum and would need the voices of all key players in order to ensure the sector could remain profitable.
Ong gave the participants an overview of recent changes in the regulatory scheme in Singapore, including expansion of regulatory powers over deployment of parcel lockers. These now provide open access by any delivery operator to help eliminate infrastructure duplication in last-mile delivery.
Levy noted that the U.S.’s recent Postal Service Reform Act brought together the viewpoints of different stakeholders to help remove cumbersome processes and allow the Post to work in a more agile way.
Similarly, González noted that Uruguay had established regular postal dialogues between the regulator, designated postal operator, various ministries, private actors and other stakeholders in the supply chain to establish trust and confidence between all players as the country reviews its way of working.
UPU Deputy Director General Marjan Osvald closed the conference, highlighting the importance of collaboration to help harmonize and modernize postal regulation.
“We should really take from this conference that postal market definitions are 25 years old,” he said.
The conference was hosted on the margins of the meetings of the UPU’s supervisory body, the Council of Administration, which took place between 16 and 20 May.