UNCTAD e-Commerce Week

Statement by UPU Deputy Director General Marjan Osvald during the High-Level Dialogue session, Tuesday 26 April, 11:30 a.m. (online)

Distinguished Experts,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a tremendous pleasure to attend this High-Level Dialogue: Towards data and digitalization for development.

As the United Nations Specialized Agency in charge of postal services, the Universal Postal Union has been part of the e-Trade-for-All initiative since its inception in 2016 as a founding partner. E-Trade-for-All creates opportunities for the UPU and others to work in a dynamic partnership to achieve far more than they could on their own.

Whether in cross-border e-commerce, in last mile delivery, digital payments, and virtual market places or in trade facilitation, the postal network’s contribution is critical to driving forward the e-Trade-for-all’s implementation agenda and ensuring no one is left behind.

This is why the UPU is a regular contributor to the Rapid eTrade Readiness Assessment reports. All in all, the UPU has co-written and co-published two reports; one for Iraq and one for Ivory Coast, in addition to regular contributions to over 20 reports for other least developed countries and developing countries.

The Universal Postal Union is committed to supporting member states in the digital transformation and diversification of postal services to bind nations and continents, and drive inclusive growth.

With over 650,000 postal outlets covering most of the world, and a workforce of over 5 million people, the global postal network is a unique asset to support government policies for e-commerce inclusion and development.

Posts provide a unique service and delivery network to support the inclusion of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, enabling them to sell online, move their goods across borders, regardless of where they are located.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the inclusiveness offered by Postal networks. During the pandemic, Posts across the world have been an essential service provider, delivering vital health services, medicines and public pension services to those in need.

The pandemic, has also left its mark on the growth in demand in ecommerce. This will certainly be the new reality in the post-COVID world for everybody, everywhere.

The COVID-19 pandemic is only one of several elements currently impacting the growth of cross border e-commerce.

Over the past few years there has been a huge change in the regulatory landscape for the movement of low-value parcels and packets across borders, with enhanced focus on security and safety and the increasing need for data exchange.

Electronic notification of the sending of postal items is now critical in meeting legal requirements taking effect in the USA and the European Union and others. Upcoming security requirements include making data available before an item leaves the country of origin, confirming the correct export processing to destination customs and transport airlines, and sending security alerts back to the country of origin.

The UPU has extensive technical assistance projects in place in most countries to accelerate the digitalization of compliance data for the movement of postal items, enabling paperless cross-border trade to be available for all segments of the population, especially for SMEs.

The UPU has made available millions of dollars in development assistance, and works with donors and partners in e-Trade-for-all, to implement these efforts.

Closing remarks

Before we conclude, let me touch on another important topic where the Post plays a critical role and that is during times of natural disasters or humanitarian crises. For example, now Posts around the world are working with Ukraine’s national postal operator to help transport humanitarian aid to the hardest hit people in Ukraine, and those displaced.

During times of natural disaster and crisis, the UPU Emergency and Solidarity Fund provides emergency assistance to support and revive postal activity in affected areas. Member countries often generously donate expertise, money and equipment, while others donate financially for specific projects to support society get both offline and online services. Relief efforts are closely coordinated with regional postal organizations and United Nations aid agencies on the ground. This can be an important lifeline for many.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to thank the Secretary-General of UNCTAD for giving us the opportunity to showcase our collective efforts as UN agencies to ensure that in this age of digitalization no-one is left behind.

Thank you very much, for your attention.