Round Table on Terminal Charges - Berne

The Swiss capital, Berne, hosed last 21-22 January the World Round Table on Terminal Charges of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), with the aim of encouraging debate on the final proposal for a new global terminal charges system for the organisation.

The proposal for the new system was designed to correspond to the framework and pretexts set out in Resolution C46/2004 of the Bucharest Congress (the 23rd UPU Congress, held in 2004), and is the result of the last four years of work and studies promoted by various of the Union's project teams and groups.

During presentation of the proposal for the new global terminal charges system efforts were made to systemise the existing information and the results already achieved. According to Resolution C46/2004 the new system should be oriented to costs and respect the specificities of each country, and be simple, accessible and easy to implement. Besides the target system (the one to be used by postal administrations of the developed countries when they exchange mail among themselves), there will also be a transition system, which will be applicable to the exchange of mail with developing countries and less developed countries.

The Round Table discussed two possible methods for calculating the terminal charges to apply: a simpler ''method A'', and a ''method B'' that is more complex but with more likelihood of reflecting the real costs. Beside this, two options under study to classify countries were also debated; both envisage five groups (with group 1 comprising the developed countries and group 5 the least developed countries) - there is only a difference in the contribution and benefit values for the countries of the intermediate groups between the first and last classification. According to C46/2004, all the countries must make the transition to the new terminal charges system by 31 December 2013(at a faster pace according to the countries' level of development). Also studied was connection of the new terminal charges system with quality of service and with the Fund for Quality of Service Improvement, whose relation is compulsory and derives from resolutions of the Bucharest Congress.

Also worthy of mention is that the UPU World Round Table is the culmination of a long process of evaluating and studying terminal charges, which in a preliminary phase was carried out at regional level, with various regional round tables organised by the UPU's restricted unions, namely the Asian-Pacific Postal Union (APPU), the Postal Union of the Americas, Spain and Portugal (UPAEP), the Union Panafricaine des Postes (UPAP), PostEurop, the Caribbean Postal Union (CPU), the Arab Permanent Postal Commission (APPC), the Regional Commonwealth for Communications (RCC) and the Southern Africa Postal Operators' Association (SAPOA).

The results of the UPU World Round Table on Terminal Charges are to be presented at the last meeting of the working group on Terminal Charges of the UPU Postal Operations Council (on 24 January 2008), which will approve the final version of the proposal and submit it to the Union's Council of Administration, so that it can become a Proposed Resolution of the 24th UPU Congress (to be held in Nairobi from 13 August to 3 September 2008).