UPU helping countries to develop rules on ETOEs

The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is set to carry out an analytical study on the regulations and procedures concerning Extraterritorial Offices of Exchange (ETOEs) to assist member countries in developing clear and concise rules for their national ETOE policies.

ETOEs are offices or facilities established for commercial purposes and operated by designated operators or under the responsibility of designated postal operators on the territory of a member country or territory other than their own, with the objective of drawing business in markets outside their respective national territory.

According to Shuangming Han, Regulatory Affairs Expert at the UPU, the current ETOE policy involves various aspects, such as legal, regulatory and operational perspectives of the UPU, which have an important impact on postal regulation and operations in member countries in the context of new market developments. There are, however, some regulatory concerns, which the analytical study aims to identify.

“The practice today is based on the UPU Convention,” he says. “It implies that the allowance or legitimacy of ETOEs is the responsibility of member countries, not of the UPU. There are some concerns with this practice. They include operational concerns and issues around the clarification of the status of ETOE operations – in particular, regarding the use of the UPU’s mail and operations systems and documentation.”

Some other operational concerns resulting from the complex matrix of rules governing ETOEs include the handling of returned and non-deliverable mail, as well as determining fair remuneration for the delivery of received items.

“Another concern is the appropriateness of member countries or designated operators determining the applicability of the UPU Acts for ETOE mails, which are commercial in nature and may originate in or be delivered to another member country,” Han adds.

The new study, which was approved at Congress in Abidjan at the end of August, will provide information, analysis and recommendations on ETOEs for member countries. The UPU will also continue to publish member countries’ ETOE policies on a regular basis, as has been done in past cycles.

“During the coming cycle, the CA will identify current practices and potential issues surrounding ETOEs from policy and regulatory perspectives based on Congress decisions and latest developments on ETOEs, in particular, the impacts of ETOEs on treaty obligations, postal regulation and operations, in order to develop theories and advisory conclusions to member countries,” Han explains.

The CA will also examine whether the current UPU regulatory framework on ETOEs meets the needs of UPU member countries, their regulators and posts in the context of market developments, which may lead to potential changes to the current UPU policy. 

“The current situation reveals a wide disparity in the ETOE policies of UPU member countries. The study will provide members with an updated analysis of ETOE policies and latest developments with regard to ETOEs in other union member countries. This will help meet the needs of UPU member countries, their regulators and designated postal operators to establish national policies on ETOEs in the context of the new and changing environment,” Han concludes.