US Announces Withdraw From Postal Treaty; International Shipping Prices Expected to Rise

The United States has announced plans to withdraw from a 144-year postal treaty that sets lower international shipping rates. The US claims this treaty gives countries like China and Singapore an unfair advantage that floods the US market with cheap packages. The BBC reports the withdraw of this treaty will increase shipping costs from China by between 40% and 70%.

The treaty in question is the Universal Postal Union, which established that each country should retain all money it has collected for international postage. The US Chamber of Commerce has said this treaty, ‘leads to the United States essentially paying for Chinese shipping’. This is especially true since 2010, when the US Postal Service entered an agreement with eBay Greater China & Southeast Asia and the China Post Express & Logistics Corporation. This agreement established e-packet delivery where packages weighing up to 2 kg would be delivered at lower prices. If you have ordered inexpensive products shipped from abroad, it is likely the e-packet price that made this possible.

This will affect businesses that capitalize on imports and exports; the storefronts on Amazon and eBay that resell Chinese goods rely on cheap shipping from China. It will also affect companies based outside of the United States that ship to US customers. Small businesses within the US who manufacture at low enough quantities to get their components/raw-materials shipped under the e-packet rates will also see a hit. An increase in shipping costs will mean higher prices for all of these products.

The move is also being justified as a way to even the playing field for US manufacturers who are shipping from within the US and may be paying higher rates to ship to the same customers as foreign-bought goods. It is the latest development in a growing trade war between the US and China which has already seen several rounds of tarrifs on goods like electronics, and even 3D printing filament. It’s hard to see how the compounding effect of these will be anything but higher prices for consumers. Manufacturers seeing the pinch on raw materials and components will pass this on to customers who will also soon see higher shipping prices than they are used to.

152 thoughts on “US Announces Withdraw From Postal Treaty; International Shipping Prices Expected to Rise

  1. Maybe politicians aren’t quiet getting it right but it is about time something is done to level the playing field somewhat.

    For sometime now we have been paying prices well below cost. Which would be unsustainable at any rate. Either China once ALL manufacturing was stitched up was going to raise the prices or tarrifs we’re going to have to be introduced.

    Prices need to go up..

    1. If it means paying very low prices as opposed to redicoulously low prices I’m fine with it as long as the economy keeps growing. We were sold out by our leaders in the usa

    2. Genuine question though. If ultimate prices for buyers and sellers go up due to tariffs, who exactly receives the extra charges? Who “profits” and who “loses” here? It depends on who you are asking about of course but who “profits” from this and who “loses” from this exactly? It’s probably not something that is entirely one sided either.

      1. Tariff are tax and government gets to pocket them. Tariffs are meant to try and discourage customers from buying imports but majority of parts we use in everyday electronics aren’t made in USA so we end up losing because the 2 big governments are fighting like brats over trivial stuff.

        1. It’s not really trivial, because the real price difference between US vs. China isn’t that great. The nominal prices may be higher, but the money circles back to you within the economy.

          The shop owner in the US will spend his money in the US, whereas the shop owner in China will spend his money in China. If you buy Chinese parts, you pump money from the US to China which means other people don’t have the money to buy your labor and your wages have to go down.

          The US tries to offset this by “printing” ever more money to keep the inflation going, which means taking on more and more national debt to keep the economy from stagnating, but the mechanisms by which money is created automatically put it in the hands of the rich, increasing wealth disparity.

      2. If the money stays within the economy, it’ll cycle back to you at some point in some form.

        If it goes to China, you end up with a situation which the British once tried to solve by selling opium.

    3. The USPS is not losing money physically delivering these packages. The argument is over pension contributions. Raising the international rates will add $300M a year to postal pension fund contributions. Postal pensions pay more than 90% of all retirements so you will be sending your money to someone who is likely better off than you are.

        1. It is “free” to you the buyer.
          The seller pays for postage … postage paid to some postal/courier service from a country overseas, of course.

          So it is not free but it is a real rip off!

          I bought a cheap watch from a Hong Kong seller and the parcel/envelope came from … from PARAGUAY !!!!

          1. Once again, you missed the point: The seller has their international shipping SUBSIDIZED by the USPS, for a lower international shipping rate than someone domestically would have to pay.

            Have you ever tried returning something to China? Why do you think YOU can’t get the same shipping prices the seller did?

  2. I feel like I heard at some point that the chinese government was subsidizing shipping for their companies leaving the cheap/free shipping tactic out of our hands. Now I don’t remember where I heard that. Anybody care to weigh in?

    1. Finding the smoking gun proof would be very difficult, but ask yourself if you were planning to undermine capitalism by selling cheap goods into those countries, what would you do?

      Glad to see this and hope the UK/EU follows. China regularly under values itself and takes the piss on the world trade stage, tho far too often the west and especially corporations have themselves to blame.
      But the people never get a voice in either system.

    2. They still are. I can overnight a package from mainland China with RC parts and get it faster through DHL than you can using FedEx from the next state over. DHL $14, FedEx $37, yet DHL doesn’t want to touch domestic-only shipping, I wonder why…

    3. You won’t ever “hear” anything negative about China in Chinese media. They have an iron grasp on all media. I do suspect that China subsidizes their postal rates to keep all those tiny shops on Aliexpress/Alibaba going. The treaty seems to essentially treat mail the US receives from “treaty” countries as “no additional (or little additional) cost” to those foreign countries. So once it’s in the USPS system, the USPS picks up the tab for distribution within the US. But is the “opposite” true for items sent from the US to destinations outside the US? I have noticed that on EU kickstarters, shipping fees to the US are fairly high (not to mention VAT). The same is true when say someone in Canada ships outside of Canada. Even something like first class postage (really only meant for letters), the cost to Canadians is 4 to 5 times what we pay. Strange that the politicians haven’t caught this long ago, or even that the USPS hasn’t complained to Congress. Maybe they have, but they just bicker and in-fight so much they never really ever get anything done other than pet projects and their own pay raises.

  3. Its unfair to all sorts of non-Chinese companies that these chinese exporters are able to ship their stuff to the world (not just the US) so much cheaper than anyone else. I may disagree with the way its being done (in particular the tariffs should be targeting more of the things bought by consumers and less of the things bought to then be used to make other stuff) but I 100% agree that the things China does are wrong and unfair.

    Its wrong that China is able to ship their manufactured goods so cheaply to the rest of the world in this way.
    Its wrong that China is able to rip off foreign IP (either directly through bootlegs or indirectly by stealing all the good stuff and using it in their own products) without consequences (in particular I wish there was more done to go after those in western countries who import/sell/supply/profit from the Chinese bootleg products).

    And its wrong that China is able to get away with not reducing emissions under things like Kyoto and Paris when western countries are doing their bit to reduce emissions.

    1. China and India are working towards emission reductions already.

      The nuance is in the “emissions per capita” vs “emissions per country”.

      http://www.journalgazette.net/news/fact-check/20170414/fact-check-do-china-india-have-obligations-before-2030-under-paris-climate-accord

      Also, the cheap stuff being manufactured in China and shipped to consumers in the US has also allowed the US to offshore more its emissions intensive industry, somewhat skewing comparison of emission reduction data

      https://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2014/01/21/u-s-exports-its-factories-and-pollution-to-china/

      1. Now that is some great info. Offshoring leads both to lower costs and lower pollution for the US. So having the guts to claim China is taking advantage of the US is just a little bit misrepresenting the truth.

        1. Don’t forget that by offshoring all that manufacturing (and engineering) to China, we’re also losing the ability to do it ON-shore. Something we should all be concerned about. Because sometimes, building things onshore, even though they end up costing more, is a better long-term strategy.

          1. >”China isn’t the culprit here, economics is.”

            Except where China offers subsidies for companies/factories that manufacture goods only for export. To qualify, you must agree to not sell your products, or parts, in mainland China. That’s in order to protect their domestic economy from the cheap stuff the offshorers produce in China.

        1. China’s construction of coal-fired plants has slowed down considerably in the last few years. Also, they have been using fairly modern scrubbing techniques to try to minimize emissions.

          On a per-capita basis, the Chinese emit about 1/4 the emissions of the average American.

          China isn’t perfect here, but the US has a ways to go themselves.

          1. “Slowed down” is not stop, they continue to pollute in ever greater amounts, but people act like signing the Kyoto accord meant they are reducing their emissions – at best they are reducing the rate of increase in admissions.

        2. One of the largest coal fired plants is still in the US. Also a fairly big problem in the US is coal ash from said plants (full of toxic crap that is leached out by water).
          Unless you guys start building new nuke plants again, you’ll never get below the chineese for emissions per capita…

          1. I’d counter by asking if you want to lose our biosphere. At a certain juncture in time it’s not going to be a choice between the greater or lesser of two conveniences.

          2. I’m asking how can one have a “green” phone, not demanding a phone at any expense.

            I believe people make small incremental changes in behavior and you time juncture is likely to never come about. They rebel against demands that they make big changes without obvious benefits.

          3. They practice planned obsolescence by making their devices fragile difficult to repair on purpose and their contractor Foxconn is known for having a poor environmental record.

    2. “And its wrong that China is able to get away with not reducing emissions under things like Kyoto and Paris when western countries are doing their bit to reduce emissions.”

      In contrary to the US China ratified the kyoto protocol. Also I am not sure where the US exluding california is doing their bit to reduce emissions?

    3. It is not “much cheaper”. At best there is a $1 advantage on packages under 1LB. Anything over 1LB is significantly more expensive international than domestic.

      The articles claiming it is “much cheaper” compare 2-3 day Priority Mail to e-Packet. e-Packet takes 8-21 days and it is usually at the long end of that. Comparing e-Packet pricing to Priority Mail is not an equivalent comparison. Of course e-Packet is much cheaper — it is seven times slower too.

      1. You have no clue what you’re talking about. The cheapest method by which I can ship an international “package” with Stamps.com is as a “flat”. Ie, a bubble mailer. This only works for stuff that’s less than 3/4″ thick, and the price is $4.79 for a 1oz item. If you go to ebay and look around however you can find all sorts of things there which you could not simply stick in an envelope because it’s non-machinable, which cost far less than it would cost me to ship them back, and they come with free shipping. And this is not Priority Mail I’m talking about, this is first class. Priority International cheapest shipping is like $35 for the small flat rate box. And First Class International packages are only slightly cheaper at around $20.

        1. The complaint is being made about the cost of shipping from China into the US compared to shipping a package domestically (ie Aliexpress vs Amazon). I agree that it costs way too much to ship international outbound from the US, but our shipping services are causing that problem, not China’s. Here’s a chart…

    4. Even if the shipping was higher, there is no guarantee that China (or any other government for that matter, USA subsidizes many things too) wouldn’t subsidize the shipping anyway.

      This all comes from the internet.
      Before the internet you would not be able order from a shop at the other side of the world.
      Also, when you say that somebody should look that imports are not bootleg/counterfeit/etc. products, you assume that somebody controls that, which is not what free market, capitalism, globalisation and more generally “conservative” politics are about.
      Besides, how would you expect that to happen?

  4. While yes it would cause prices to go up, we’re already paying for the china shipping by paying ever increasing postage rates on our domestic packages and mailings. Its not right that the USPS is paying the cost of delivering all these china packages from where they land here to the recipient. When a US company cant ship something across town for less than their customer can have the same item shipped directly from china, something is wrong. While I will surely miss getting things from china for a couple bucks shipped this is something that needed to happen.

      1. Right, US shops charge ridiculous shipping fees when they do accept to export. I guess either they don’t care about “outside US”, or they believe the must offer DHL/FEDEX service only.

        1. So true. Because of that i stopped importing anything from U.S. altogether. Actually there is not much goods worth importing from US (from my point of view).
          Mainly second-hand specialized hardware, few special tools, and most of the time you can find the rest -when you count in shipping- at better prices elsewhere.

        2. I’ve ordered from OSH Stencils and they ship to Europe only using USPS; the first time the package got lost, while the second time they shipped it took 3 weeks to arrive, and tracking was reporting that the package was stuck in some depot in the US for two and a half of those weeks.

          DHL and FEDEX are the only real option for shipping out of the US without unjustified delays; shame for the priec though.

          1. Most of the shipping problem at OSH are from UPS that collects the packages which then sit on it for may be a week or so before transferring to USPS. That’s the price to pay for their “free” shipping that uses bulk package at UPS.

        3. Tracking for USPS Priority Mail ends when it leaves the US and delivery is not promised within some time period. USPS Express is expensive and equally bad at delivery times. USPS First class is more affordable and only takes 10 to 60 days with no tracking and generates endless customer complaints.

          The solution is FedEX or DHL (nobody screws with the German railway system). UPS if you like paperwork and a terrible web interface. Export paperwork and customs papers for various countries are easiest via FedEx. They will pre-clear items and usher them through customs whenever possible.

          And yes, it costs less to get a China Post or e-packet package from Chengdu to Seattle than to send a USPS parcel 175 miles from Seattle to Portland.

        4. > Right, US shops charge ridiculous shipping fees when they do accept to export

          We’re not charging that ridiculous shipping fee on our own accord…that’s just what it costs. The absolute cheapest possible USPS service for an international package from the US is around $13 for a few ounces, and it quickly jumps to $30+. It does not matter how small or cheap the product is, the charge will be at least $13. They recently prohibited merchandise from envelope service, so the sub-$5 international option for very small products is now off the table.

        5. That’s not even remotely accurate.

          I get commercial rates through Stamps.com for shipping through USPS which is the cheapest option.

          If it is something that weighs a few ounces and is less than 3/4″ thick which I can ship in a bubble mailer then it costs me around $5 to ship it internationally.

          If it is anything that I can’t stick in a bubble mailer, minimum price to ship is $13. But that’s only for things which are 8oz or less. A small cardboard box weighs 4oz, so literally, if you wanted to ship a single small board, by the time you add the weight of the bubble wrap, label, and packing tape, you’re almost certainly going to be over 8oz, at which point the cost jumps immediately to $22.

  5. “Manufacturers seeing the pinch on raw materials and components will pass this on to customers who will also soon see higher shipping prices than they are used to.”

    Whew. The Amazon workers got their raise just in the nick of time.

    1. Indeed, it’s been the case for millennia that organised religions and governments have been exploiting humans and all life for that matter as a crop. In the last few decades it’s been more obvious corporate culture has been doing that too and with far less humility even to the point of brash ‘in her face’ like it or lump it – sadly there are less places to embrace the contrary…

  6. This had to happen – and has to happen in a lot of countries. The cost of delivering these packages in destination countries are usually higher than people pay for the goods, including shipping.
    The only thing I wonder is why it hasn’t happened sooner.

    1. Really, only if Express 3-7 days ? As just few months ago I sent a 300+g parcel with good packing to east coast USA north carolinas for aud$27 and that wasn’t the slow economy rate, took about 12 days from Perth cbd, Western Australia.
      Whilst at it got a 41+ Kg power supply few months later purchased from seller in Florida USA through Pitney Bowes as part of eBay’s global shipping program, surprisingly got it via air, took 2 weeks all up and cost aud$231 for shipping component for an HP6269B. I’m guessing a logistics benefit from warehousing programs such as with modern fast feedback collation options at best airport nexus. So called private quotes for normal commercial (business) operations > aud$500. Oddly the cost and admin overhead via sea freight LCL worked out 30% more – another hidden logistics issue perhaps, would be good to know what the inflexion points could be on an ongoing basis and lock them in on some schedule. ie. Makes sure each aircraft’s cargo bay filled as priority with least problematic goods…

  7. How Canada Post deals with the Asia shipping problem is all “free” or below market shipping items go last in the priority lineup, which means everything ordered off ebay now takes months to arrive. A record delay in shipping for me has been 6 months from Shenzen to Vancouver. The average shipping time is now one to three months. In contrast, ebay items from Japan to Vancouver, 3 to 5 days.

    1. The new NAFTA or USMCA on the Canadian side still isn’t open enough to allow for free passage to Canada across the border for reasonably priced goods via Courier. That means to purchase on-line from a US vendor is still too expensive once all costs are considered. Meanwhile I can buy on-line from China and receive it a month later with no extra costs or taxes. Sadly, the in-debt and overspending Canadian gov’t will find a way to tax the Chinese goods rather than lower or match the US duty/tax free import amount.

      1. Are you suggesting that Canada taxes more the USA than China for the same item?
        Maybe the in-debt Canadian government is in that situation because it is not getting enough VAT (from lost sales to China e-commerce) or having to subsidize the post that brings all that

    1. Interesting .. its almost like their economy isn’t based on profit and capital. ..almost like they have a communal economy..

      (Im agreeing. I just think its silly that most people assume they are playing the same game we are. They are not.)

  8. “Consumers in the United States have been spoiled by low-cost, if not free shipping from China.”
    What about the time before 2010?
    “Companies in the United States have been spoiled by low-cost, if not free shipping from China. ”

    It’s seems that companies can have lowest possible expenses, it’s an double edged sword consumers aren’t allowed to play with. I am not american, it’s impossible to buy some of the stuff locally and why do I have to pay for the +500% markup instead of going direct to the source?

    Companies can choose between several sources; I cannot buy different chocolate, butter, milk, meat, diy/electronic stuff, it was impossible for me to get electronics/parts at resonably price until Ebay/china. Since it was mostly for experiments or R&D I could not use too much money on it. The quality of chocolate have dwindled, with salt and less aftertaste. For what?

      1. Why? The same rationale applies, if EU does not do the same as USA, they would be providing an unfair advantage to foreign companies (vs. domestic), that should be considered treason and domestic companies should be able to hold their government liable for that.

  9. How about postage to Canada? It’s so high that many Canadians pay for a delivery location south of the border then drive across the border to pick up their stuff that would otherwise cost them $20 or more to have mailed across the border.

    1. i dont know where you get your information but in my experience it has never been the postage that keeps me from getting things delivered to Canada. Its always been the brokerage fees that lead to me having my stuff shipped to CBI and then picking it up my self. Now, this all depends on the size and cost of what ever you are shipping, the bigger and more costly it is then the larger the brokerage fee is going to be.

      The real reason that most people have things shipped to the states and brought into Canada is to avoid taxes, which dont affect the cost of the postal service anyways. If you remove the taxes or the brokerage fees (which include the taxes and other costs) then shipping via the Canadian postal service is comparable to fed ex and ups.

  10. Reminds me of an email that we got today about our crowd-funding campaign:

    “$15 shipping cost worldwide is so disappointing. Check out Aliexpress.com what direct shipment for small pcbs should cost. ”

    I am not sure how to reply to this email.

      1. Why is it cheaper to ship a given item from China, literally the other side of the planet, than to ship the same item across state lines?

        Someone is subsidizing those discount rates on Chinese shipments, and I suspect it is everyone that still uses first class postage.

        1. Another part it rides over in a shipping container on container a ship full of iphones and toys so the across ocean leg is nearly free since the trip is already paid for by the primary cargo and it doesn’t cost much to add an extra container.

          1. The shipping containers are still going back to china just most of them are empty, it doesnt cost any more to ship to china as far as the shipping method is concerned, all the extra cost is in domestic fees.

      2. It would be $5 in the US to ship a few small PCBs in a bubble mailer as a first class flat through Stamps.com. That is assuming it’s something that would survive the trip.

        But googling his name reveals he’s in India, so who knows how much it is to ship internationally from there.

  11. The important part is that it will also increase the prices of shipping *from* US, which is great news to the whole world, as it will make it so much easier to compete with the economy bully.

    1. Increase of shipping prices out of the US were also the first consequence that came to mind from me.
      This has the effect of instigating isolationism for anyone but big chains, screwing over smalltimers in the US selling from places like Tindie to the rest of the world.

      1. Exactly my thoughts. The only time a consumer in Europe buys from the US is when it’s something that is literally unfindable elsewhere (kickstarter-type gadgets and native crafts comes to mind), we have our own local distributors for everything else. All this is going to do is hurt end-user exports worse. The glaring problem with this growing isolationist approach is that it assumes the US consumer sphere is all that matters.

          1. Germany was smart enough to negotiate for these fair terms before pulling out entirely was the only option. We’ve had pretty balanced costs for thirty years now. Costs to ship domestic are significantly less than to or from China.

            Makes it hard to sell into China unless our value-add is significant.
            But that makes sense and forces us into a better position. More of our wealth is reinvested instead of economically bleeding to death.

          2. @Ø:
            To what wiki or ‘official site’ do you refer?
            Many reasons for Germany’s growth, but not incentivizing its own people to buy Chinese products is surely relevant.

  12. This is yet another con perpetrated on the American people by their government. It is just another way to harvest more taxes while dressing it up as some sabre rattling protectionist scheme.

    “The treaty in question is the Universal Postal Union, which established that each country should retain all money it has collected for international postage.”…

    In other words the people actually losing out on the low international postage charges from China are the Chinese since it is they who are not receiving the income from the service. The only reason it seems like an unfair situation is because the US is not shipping the same amount of goods back to China. Well if the average US worker were prepared to greatly lower their standard of living and US industry were prepared to sell their products as a greatly reduced rate then there wouldn’t be such a disparity in the import / export ratio.

    Stop bellyaching and start competing. If you want to sell more stuff to the rest of the world make it more appealing for us to buy it. Your new taxes are just going to make it harder for YOU.

    1. Totally agree, and I’m an American. The last couple of generations of Americans seem to think Freedom, means the same thing as free-stuff, and reluctant to work for anything. But they quickly learn they they have to get jobs and work, and not much left after paying their bills, so they expect more pay, instead taking a second job, or improving their selves to apply for better paying jobs. Really amazes me all the noise over raising minimum wage jobs, which aren’t really career jobs, just a starting point, temporary for most people. I just can’t grasp a fast-food worker getting paid $15/hour plus benefits. You walk in with no skills or experience, and the employer has no expectation that an employee will stay long. A lot of Americans want all the newest stuff, but don’t have a lot of free cash, either because of the heavy debt they already racked up, or they refuse to look for a better paying job, just sort of waiting until their pay catches up to their wants and needs. Nobody seems to get that shipping off all those purchases overseas, kills job opportunities here at home. Companies don’t stay in business long, if it’s costing them more, than the take in. They either cut operating costs or raise prices, or both. Poor quality and high prices don’t sell much product either. Freedom is about being allowed to work for whatever you want. More you want, the harder you need to work for it. You can save your money to invest in your future, or you can spend it quicker than you earn it, on frivolous things. It’s freedom of choices, about what you do with your life, not everything handed to you free, like when living at home, with mom and dad. Use to be, kids worked, or at least did chores around the house. Can’t remember the last time I saw a kid pushing a lawnmower, or any other yard work. Most minimum wage jobs are filled by adults, not high school kids preparing to enter the work force, or save some cash for college.

      Higher shipping can be mitigate some by the consumer, by placing larger orders. Most people know others, of similar interests, who will be making similar purchases. Pool your orders, or buy a few extra to sell off. I seldom just buy the minimum of parts I need for a project anyway. Depends on the part and price, but usual double up on everything, most parts quite a few extra pieces, since they can be used in many other projects later, or somebody might need to borrow or buy for something they are working on. Might be something, that if the project works well, probably make a few more. It’s always nice to have a good assortment of parts on hand, when in a creative mood, and be able to throw something together, quickly. Waiting on parts, sometimes kills a project, as I might get started on something more interesting, or get too busy with other things in life.

      1. After working at walmart for several years, I must point out that the majority of my coworkers were there as a permanent job supporting families, children and often grandchildren. Oftentimes single parents. Many of them had second jobs, sometimes more. These are low paid “part time” jobs often with nearly full time hours. However hours (and the scheduling) can be inconsistent because the corporate algorithms favor fewer, lower paid workers (for the obvious short term profit motives). Despite an individual job’s hours, many of these people work in excess of 60 hours a week.

        Additionally, despite their efforts, they still need to be on food stamps (such that mcdonalds employee help line had protocols to advise employees to get food stamps at one point). This is like government subsidized wages, pocketed by the corporations. In walmart’s case, almost all of that money is spent at the workplace, so they get to pocket it twice (not quite since grocery margins are slim, but it’s at least once).

        Hypothetically, the could trickle in an education but like I said, they are busy with kids.

        So that’s what living wage groups are on about. Millions of americans virtually trapped in a bad situation. Please don’t discount it as whining.

        1. +1 this and there’s the fact higher education in the US has become a mess with prices getting out of control and predatory loan practices , and schools that are often out right scams like the a certain school named after the POTUS or those code boot camps so it’s not exactly straightforwards for many people to better themselves.
          And it gets worse student loan debt in the US cannot even be discharged by bankruptcy because law makers were bought by schools and the banks.
          Technically this is unconstitutional and every law made on it since 1976 is in violation.

      2. The minimum wage has not kept up with inflation. Every year a dollar is worth less than the year before. The minimum wage is only adjusted by a Congressional act and hasn’t been increased to keep up with inflation ever. It should be chained to the same increases that Social Security uses. I’d much rather pay a company a few pennies more for something than have to pay taxes to subsidize those workers. Then at least the consumer is paying for their services rather than spreading that cost over everyone in the country, thereby subsidizing the companies.

    2. You don’t seem to be aware that China fixed it’s currency to be cheaper than the US dollar, thus giving them a built in cost advantage. The solution is to float the value of the yuan so massive trade surpluses would cause the value of the yuan to rise and the cost advantage would disappear.

      1. Perhaps. But China is not the only country in the world. US could sell its products to other countries … if they weren’t so *overpriced* because of the *overvalued* US dollar.

        Instead of bashing China, US should look itself in the mirror, stop overspending on endless wars, raise taxes for the rich to 1970’s levels, and curb corporations and politician bribing.

    3. This will hurt a lot of small businesses in the US as it will increase the cost of shipping things out of the US and a lot of companies depend on parts from China. things like capacitors and PCBs are usually gotten from Chinese suppliers not just for cost but since there is often no pother options.
      Another recent example of this administration’s decisions back firing many US fastener factories had to shut down because the cost of steel wire from Mexico went up and there are almost no US suppliers of it.

    4. “Stop bellyaching and start competing. If you want to sell more stuff to the rest of the world make it more appealing for us to buy it. Your new taxes are just going to make it harder for YOU.”

      And yet I read two stories earlier this week about foreign countries that wanted the laws to favor their local content over foreign. Apparently SOMEONE is buying our stuff.

    5. When discussing things it is important to stick to the facts. This treaty simply went like this: The country that shipped the item (call it country A) was allowed to charge whatever it wanted for postage, and had the obligation to deliver the package to the other country’s border (country B). Country B then delivered the package to the recipient, and did not charge country A for this service. In turn, packages from country B to country A were to be handled in the same way. Depending on how large country AB is, it can cost country B a lot of money to deliver that package. In the case of the USA it is most certain that the USPS spends more money to deliver Chinese packages than the other way around.
      The only argument that I can find that holds water is that once this treaty is canceled, the cost of Chinese goods will rise, and the consumer in the USA will end up paying the difference. Either way, the US consumer pays the difference, unless some other more competatively priced product is found in a (semi) local market where shipping doesnt play a role.

    6. “The treaty in question is the Universal Postal Union, which established that each country should retain all money it has collected for international postage.”

      Is that all it says?

  13. When I was A kid I could not afford Electronics so I stole for them. Now I’m older and could afford the electronics they raise the price so I can no longer afford the electronics.
    It really sucks loving something and only being able to look from the outside because you can no longer to afford to go in.

    1. I too needed to steal Electronics to live when I was A kid. Oh wait, no I didn’t, you don’t need Electronics to live. I went and mowed lawns and saved my money like a productive member or society. The world doesn’t owe you anything; stop acting like it does.

    2. Didn’t steal electronics as a kid but I did destroy a lot of toys and an occasional VCR or radio to get the parts I wanted.
      My parents would bring home old broken or out dated stuff from work for me to take a apart to keep me away from the appliances.

    3. Sadly, that just shows that you weren’t properly parented. No-one needs electronics; they are a luxury item, mostly. Unfortunately, most societies seem to teach that ‘want’ = ‘need’ and so we justify our dirty deeds because we ‘deserve’ to have what we want, as our immature greed tells us that we ‘need’ it.

  14. China will do whatever it takes to ensure China’s survival.
    USA will do whatever it takes to ensure the USA’s survival.

    Economic problems, like most political problems are problems of will – who is willing to sit down and talk because that’s all it takes.

  15. ¹ I have ordered seeds all the way from China to Florida for 46¢, including shipping. (In the U.S. a regular stamp is 49¢)
    ² The U.S. Postal service is a horribly inefficient red-tape bureaucracy. I just recently had an “express” mail package go back and forth 4 times between Trenton and Kearny N.J. before it finally made it to me here in Florida. Took 3 weeks to receive my “express” mail package. Nothing wrong with the address label or zip code. Hardly the first time this has happened. I’ve had packages go back and forth from California to Texas multiple times, from Miami to my home town, and then back to Miami, from Miami to Jacksonville via Raleigh, N.C., etc. etc. etc….

    1. That goes for almost any country’s postal system.
      They’re losing money out of bureaucratic inefficiency and refusal to adapt even without the Asian problem.
      They were simply never geared for a future with lots of smaller packages but no mail.

      1. Au contraire! My postal service (and many others) cleverly split their mail and parcel divisions into different companies. The mail division is making big losses (for the taxpayer) but the parcel division is doing excellent business and making large profits for the shareholders.

        1. That’s why I said “almost”
          Splitting them up would make it possible to deal with them independently, but bureaucracy seems to be the general excuse for why it isn’t a more often implemented strategy.
          Probably because then it’ll highlight how much the mail division is haemorrhaging money.

  16. So this all started with an altruistic American policy that’s nearly single-handedly enabled foreign businesses to sell into USA’s massive market? Now that it’s getting overhauled after massively hurting USA businesses and loooooong overdue for a change, people who have benefitted from it are mad that the tap is getting shut off?
    I’m not a fan of Trump, but even Obama pushed for this reform.

    Quick fax (skrrat, skidi-kat-kat):
    I sell Chinese manufactured electronics.
    It costs more to ship inside the USA to the same zip code than it does to drop ship from China.
    Our domestic shipping has increased 4x since 2001.
    Shipping costs are 2x our margin.

    USA based businesss account for the vast majority of domestic shipping costs so are responsible for subsidizing the Chinese shipping costs (both ways). Very few of them actually sell to or buy from China. The money train starts with buying from these companies with wages paid by these companies.

    China is able to produce so cheaply, not because of wages, but because of logistics and government forced partnerships (and ignoring environmental regulations, ignoring IP or labor laws, government assistance, etc).
    i.e. Placing businesses, part of a similar supply, chain physically close together to eliminate needless shipping costs and having them share in the largest margins.
    For example, placing a shovel plant next to a lumber mill and steel mill that are next to a forest and mine.

    USA domestic shipping costs have been a killer and USA companies like P&E have started to catch-on, building massive (5 square mile) factories that eliminate shipping markups and provide low rent to their suppliers inside their facility. Our ideas of freedom prevent our government from forcing the highest profit margin companies from sharing it with their suppliers though.

    1. ” Our ideas of freedom prevent our government from forcing the highest profit margin companies from sharing it with their suppliers though.”…

      What complete drivel. Your government is free to build any kind of tax structure it likes (a recent example of this is import duties on some Chinese goods) it is then free to payout the taxes as “special incentives”. An example of this is giving a company a special tax break to build a factory in a specific area.

      You yanks bandy the word freedom about as though you somehow invented it yet you are chained to a political structure that forces you to either make money off the backs of your neighbours or live in poverty.

      Now your politicians are pointing the finger of all your ills at China and you are so wrapped up in wanting to blame someone else that you go along with it.

      If it costs more to send a small packet internally within the US than it does for someone to send it from China then do something positive about it and demand that your postal service is improved.

      They say that you get the politicians that you deserve – get off your backsides and put pressure on them to improve things.

  17. Obviously it is bad to pay more for shipping, but we in other countries already pay more for shipping from China than americans do, so they will probably survive.
    The good point it that it maybe can tip the balance for some people to buy some things locally.

    Here I have to buy some things from China, because people don´t store then locally, even some very common things ( screws from a specific size, connectors, etc ) . China wins because the shipping from Mouser & cia is higher. If the costs get similar, would prefer buying from the recognized stores to avoid the long delays ( two to three months ) and fear of not receiving the right part or a low quality part.

  18. that will be good it will help keep more stuff here in america even if it means buying a container and then distributing within.

    i hate waiting weeks for something because it is handled by customs or the seller chooses sea or anything other than overnight

  19. China didn’t force US and other companies to outsource to them, or force US consumers to buy Chinese-made goods; these were decisions freely made, and the domestic companies involved have profited handsomely from outsourcing. And most consumers like it this way… well except for those who lost their manufacturing jobs.

    It’s of course going to level off as China and other developing economies come up to western standards.

    This withdrawal from the postal treaty – can anyone estimate how much trade (% or actual value) it would actually affect? It seems to me that it harms consumers, but will benefit only the distributors who can afford to import in bulk and earn a markup on it; I don’t see that this will really inspire more local manufacturing.

  20. I have never seen so many people wanting to give up a good thing for themselves. Right now it is like a guy who will give you 3 5’s for a 10, and only in the US, are people griping about it. Am I the only person who enjoys the low prices. This is going to totally suck. Washington will not be happy until our economy is totally in the dumps.

    1. There’s no free lunch. Shipping happens and it has a cost. Ask yourself who pays this.

      You enjoy low Chinese prices because their shipping cost is being paid by USA businesses through higher domestic shipping costs. These businesses are obviously not charities so have to compensate with higher product costs and lower salaries. So you’re benefiting via lower USA wages and higher USA product costs.

      It’s a rob Peter to pay Paul where your short-term greed screws you in the long-term.

    2. As a nation, we are over $20 trillion in debt, not sure what sort of interest payments we make every year on that, but probably not far from what they take in. The government still wants to be a charity, and throw a ton of cash, on any problem that needs smoothing over. We’ve been living on charity for a long time, instead of struggling through occasional rough spots. Families, neighbors, and communities seldom come together, and help each other through rough times, other than maybe to give directions to the nearest government hand-out office.

      The only way to straighten out the mess, is to suffer through some hard times. A little at a time, is a lot easier than getting hit with it all at once. Probably never understand how Pres. Obama double the national debt of all presidents before him, combined, in just 8 years, with little accounting or question. The point is, that we all are going to have to pay the price, for all the decades of free and cheap. Maybe we all expected the good times would last, least until we were dead or dying, and another generation’s problem. Nobody can borrow forever. There gets to be a point where no one wants to extend anymore credit. Individuals don’t manage their personal finances like that, for long, creditors expect to get paid. They usually want it, before defaults, or bankruptcy, since the tend to lose a great deal.

      The only way our economy is going to get better, is if the government stop passing out money, they just don’t have. The States, cities, and local communities should be dealing with the bulk of the federal charities.

      When I was young, most anything imported, was more expensive than the domestic version. 10 years later, imports were cheaper than domestic, often cheaper quality as well. Highly appealing, cheaply made, is still usually better than not at all. Domestic quality started to fall, but not the prices so much, since people still were brand loyal, and aware of the cheap imports, that mostly got thrown away, not much could be repaired. Now days, aside from fakes and knockoffs, import quality is good, compared to domestic, and much less expensive. We shipped our jobs and businesses overseas, now we gladly send them our paychecks as well. Shipping cost somebody so money, it ain’t free, and it’s not just a few dollars from the other side of the planet. You want the imported stuff, pay the premium, since you are hurting the domestic economy, killing our jobs and businesses.

  21. The USPS is a broken institution (like Amtrak) that always needs more money thrown at it to get it fixed but the solutions never work and they just need more money to fix the fix while they shift the blame to anything else they can. The cost of a TEU from China to Seattle is about 2 grand so the cost per package for the international trip is pennies, Bob talked about it in this article recently https://hackaday.com/2018/08/30/the-challenges-of-shipping-from-china-life-of-a-flailing-tube-man/ .
    USPS service quality has been going down as well even with the increased internal shipping costs (its amazons fault LOL) I just had a 6oz package take 6 days to travel 4 states and 2 of those days the package was at zip 55212 which seems to be a black hole.

  22. Quote: “Manufacturers seeing the pinch on raw materials and components will pass this on to customers who will also soon see higher shipping prices than they are used to.”

    Most of the article is good, but that remark is silly beyond belief. U.S. manufacturers aren’t getting their raw materials in tiny USPS-delivered packages. Those goods go in bulk by other means. And for raw materials like steel, China has an overproduction problem and has been dumping it on the world market at below cost.

    Nor it this fuss likely to lead to an actual withdrawal from the Postal Union. The Union has behaved stupidly in this matter, refusing to end for China, the second largest economy on the planet, a mailing discount intended for really poor countries. Trump is doing what he does marvelously well, bringing an end to all the various agreements previous presidents have blundered into over the years that have been harmful to U.S. businesses and workers.

    Incidentally, that is precisely what Trump said would get him to run for president in an appearance on the Oprah show in 1988. That’s thirty years ago. Substituted China for Japan, and that’s precisely what he is doing now. Politically, he’s been remarkably consistent at carrying out his promises.

  23. It comes down to this, the US postal service is to expensive, they are suffering from the same problem that is killing Sears, sky high pension costs. I have experience in shipping packages to Europe, particularly Germany as well as shipping packages to the US from there, and I can tell you that I can send the same size package from Germany to the US for 40% less that it costs me to ship it from here to Germany.
    It is these high USPS rates that are the reason so many US companies are looking into delivering goods themselves

  24. USPS will eventually fail from rising pension costs, mismanagement, and corruption. Its’ been nearly bankrupt for some time. Chinese “e-packet” shipping has kept it on life support but it wont last. UPS and FedEx will never be a truly low-cost alternative due to union costs and executive management taking the lions share of the profits for themselves (as is typical in most US-based companies). In the future, we’ll see uber-like micro-shipping operations springing up along side of privately-owned walmart-like freight handling from the port to the warehouse. Something like COSCO to Walmart, then from Walmart to your door. Purely-online retailers that do not have direct access to shipping ports and local warehouses will be negatively impacted the most.

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