U.S. postal treaty exit would hurt Canadian e-commerce businesses

U.S. threaten to exit Universal Postal Union in October unless more balanced shipping fees reached

U.S. President Donald Trump’s push to withdraw from an international postal treaty could have a big impact on Canadian e-commerce companies and their American customers.

The U.S. threat to exit the Universal Postal Union in October unless more balanced shipping fees with China and other countries can be reached this month means online retailers could see direct-to-consumer delivery prices shoot up.

The 145-year-old treaty, which sets the rates that nearly 200 national postal services pay one another to complete deliveries, mandates wealthier countries to pay more than developing countries, including China.

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Todd Coupland, an analyst at CIBC World Markets, says the Trump administration’s move for the United States Postal Service to set its own rates would affect drop-shipping, which refers to retail deliveries made directly to the buyer from a manufacturer or wholesaler.

Many drop-shippers in Canada use Shopify Inc. as their retail platform, meaning a dip in deliveries and more shuttered online storefronts could dent Shopify’s bottom line, which relies on payment-processing fees and user subscriptions.

In an email, the U.S. Postal Service says it supports the goals of the Trump administration to secure a more balanced remuneration system for small goods shipments, and that it will not leave the postal treaty if better terms are set before the union’s next meeting in mid-October.

The Canadian Press

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