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Trump envoy 'personally' appeals to postal group to back US

GENEVA — The world’s largest union of public postal services opened a three-day emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss the Trump administration’s plans to pull the United States out of the group it helped found 145 years ago..

A high-level White House envoy at the Universal Postal Union meeting in Geneva told delegates he was “personally” appealing for other countries to back Washington’s call for an overhaul of the international mail system.

UPU’s “extraordinary congress” this week is only the third since the intergovernmental body was created in 1874 to smooth international mail deliveries.

Leaders said about 140 of its 192 member nations were represented at the meeting devoted to the U.S. saying it would withdraw if its proposals weren’t adopted. The withdrawal could happen as soon as Oct. 17.

The Trump administration insists some postal carriers, such as China’s, aren’t paying enough to have foreign shipments delivered to U.S. recipients and argues the current international mail system is ill-suited for 21st-century boom in shipping and deliveries because of e-commerce.

The White House dispatched Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro, who is considered a political heavyweight among many civil servants, to attend the meeting in Geneva.

In brief remarks to delegates, Navarro said that under the existing system, the United States is forced to “heavily subsidize” the importation of small parcels “in a way that costs our Postal Service hundreds of millions of dollars a year and costs our economy tens of thousands of jobs.”

He said “no reasonable person” could support the existing reimbursement system.

Navarro also referenced his White House responsibilities outside postal matters, saying he’s been involved in trade negotiations with a half-dozen Western countries and helped to promote the defence of another half-dozen.

He alluded to issues like removing trade barriers with the European Union, reform of the World Trade Organization and “fair share financing of the NATO alliance.”

“From this broader perspective, I am personally asking you to support the United States position,” Navarro said. “I make this ask because in times like these, where no reasonable person could support the terminal dues system, this is what friends and allies do for each other.”

“The mission here today is to retool this system for the brave new world of e-commerce,” Navarro added. “As we say in America, ‘You know what to do.'”

China’s envoy said her country opposed the option most supported by the United States.

UPU Secretary General Bishar Hussein of Kenya said he was “very optimistic” a deal could be reached he hoped the United States wouldn’t leave the organization.

Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press