Opening of the UPU Global Conference on Cross-Border Cooperation in an E-commerce World

Speech by Amb. Bishar A. Hussein, Director General of the UPU, during the opening of the UPU Global Conference on Cross-Border Cooperation in an E-commerce World, Xiamen, China, 26 November 2019

Distinguished delegates

Ladies & gentlemen

Good morning

On behalf of myself and my team from the International Bureau secretariat, I want to thank the co-host and organizers of this important international cross-border e-commerce event here in Xiamen namely, the government of the People’s Republic of China represented by the governor, and China Post State Bureau.

I also want to thank all the participants who have responded to our invitation and are present with us today. You are most welcome.

As I mentioned, this event is co-sponsored and co-hosted by China and the UPU as a recognition of the importance of cross border e-commerce collaboration. It is our intention that during the next two days, our eminent panelists and participants would examine our cross border e-commerce status, break down its barriers and challenges and give us suggestions on the best way forward for all of us to benefit from it.

Ladies and gentlemen, e-commerce is a reality we must all appreciate and embrace without any hesitation. That is where our customers have moved. We must follow them and meet their expectations. We have no choice. It is not business as usual.

We are all gathered here today and tomorrow to share experiences, discuss best practices and above all build strategies and alliances both in the public and private sector to enhance the cross border e-commerce business.

Dear colleagues, we cannot talk about e-commerce without looking at the barriers that impeded its success. These include:

1.         The efficiency of the global supply chain.

2.         E-commerce technologies.

3.         Security of the network and ways to protect it from criminal acts like counterfeiting, narcotic and entry of drugs and generally anti-terrorism efforts.

4.         We cannot talk about cross border e-commerce without the collaboration of other stakeholders like WCO, IATA, ICAO, border security agencies and anti-narcotic organizations. We need closer inter agency collaborations for cross border e-commerce to succeed.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to emphasize that UPU is your partner and facilitator in your cross border e-commerce business. My technical team is on standby here to provide more information on our initiatives and technical solutions that have been developed to support your businesses.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, before I conclude my remarks, I wish to inform the delegates about the UPU strategic 2030 vision currently in the works that will be adopted during the 27th UPU congress scheduled to be held in Abidjan, Côte D’Ivoire, next year.

The highlight of the proposals going forward to congress is the opening up of the UPU to the wider postal sector players. The four pillars of the strategy identified by the ministers of posts and widely supported by all member states are:

1.         The definition role of governments in promoting the postal sector

2.         The roles of Regulators to harmonize their position

3.         The role of Designated Operators to enhance the efficiency of their network and the provision of USO

4.         The role of the private sector in the postal industry

This vision set by the ministerial conference during the UPU Extraordinary Congress held in Addis Ababa in 2018, has foreclosed the question of whether or not to open up the UPU. The debate will now shift to when, what and how to open it.

The UPU governing body in October 2019 established a task force to review this matter and bring forth proposals that would be submitted to the 27th UPU Congress.

The international secretariat has now sent out questionnaires to all the entities mentioned above and we hope to receive their feedback before the end of December in order to prepare the discussion papers going forward.

Ladies and gentlemen, my prediction is that UPU will be opened to the private sector like its other UN sister organizations and agencies. There is a growing understanding that the private sector plays an important role in our national economies. Governments have liberalized the postal markets in many of our countries and regulators have provided the necessary licenses for their operations. The designated Postal Operators have embraced the private sector and collaborate with them in many ways. It is therefore imperative that the private sector is also welcomed to the UPU. I believe that it is time we welcomed them. UPU should represent the whole postal industry and not just a small segment (the DOs) albeit a very important segment.

However, I wish to add a curvier here that the entry of the private sector into UPU will not be a walk in the park. We must lay down clear principles, clear framework and a timeline for their entry.

Excellencies, in the quest for cross border e-commerce and the potential admission of the private sector into the UPU, we must not forget the fundamental values of UPU which is the provision of accessible, affordable, secure, efficient and reliable universal postal service. We must defend and promote these values at all costs.

Last, but not least, I want to promote the role and relevance of UPU to the postal industry as a whole. It is the glue that holds together the global postal network. We must all support, protect and advance the union. You all need it.

Thank you for your attention.