Peter Navarro: The Trump Guide to Diplomacy

Editors note: CPA has previously praised Peter Navarro‘s action fixing the requirement by the Universal Postal Union that the US subsidize the delivery of small packages coming in from China.

A recent deal to reform global mail delivery shows that a strong, principled negotiation strategy gets results.

[Peter Navarro | October 15, 2019 | NY Times]

The United States recently scored a historic victory when it overhauled a 145-year-old international organization, the Universal Postal Union, whose outdated policies were undermining American interests. This week, the White House will celebrate that deal with the union’s director general, Bishar Hussein, who will receive formal notice that the United States will remain in the organization.

This is a big deal — the union, founded in 1874, coordinates international mail delivery; when you get a postcard from your cousin traveling in France, you have the union to thank.

But the agreement is even more significant for what it demonstrates: how effective American diplomacy can be when it is strategically and forcefully deployed. The deal provides a road map for reforming other international organizations now treating the United States unfairly and in desperate need of change.

This bigger story began almost exactly one year ago, when President Trump ordered the United States to withdraw from the union within 12 months — the earliest possible withdrawal by terms of the postal union treaty. President Trump directed this exit because under the union’s antiquated “terminal dues” system, the United States Postal Service was being forced to subsidize a flood of small packages, primarily from China, at an annual cost in the neighborhood of $500 million.

This forced subsidy gave China an unfair advantage against American manufacturers and workers, while disadvantaging private carriers like FedEx and U.P.S. Incredibly, under the union’s terminal dues rules, it is cheaper to send a small package from Shanghai to New York than from Chicago.

With a year to resolve this issue, a White House-led interagency team engaged with the union’s leadership and member countries to fashion a sweeping reform of the antiquated terminal dues system. Finally, on Sept. 25 in Geneva, what seemed unimaginable in the face of strong opposition actually happened: The 192-member Universal Postal Union unanimously adopted the reform proposal. Mr. Hussein, the director general, called it “the most remarkable day in the history of the union.”

At a time when other international organizations need to adapt to the realities of the 21st century, there are several fundamental lessons for American diplomacy to be drawn from the postal victory.

First, articulate fair and principled goals. The Trump team insisted from the beginning that the outdated rate-setting system must be modernized and that all member states must have more power in setting their own postage rates.

Second, make the redline demands clear. The administration’s unwavering condition was to allow the United States Postal Service to immediately set domestic postage rates at a level sufficient to recover costs.




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