PARCEL CROSS-BORDER & GLOBAL 2022

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BY MERRY LAW

WHAT TO WATCH ON THE INTERNATIONAL DELIVERY FRONT

T

he past year has brought an easing of international supply chain issues, an increase in international air transit, and fewer delays in delivery and customs. But not all developments were positive: the lingering COVID pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the lockdowns in and tensions with China, and extreme weather events globally all had implications for the postal and delivery network. Postal operators, particularly in the less-developed countries, have not fully recovered from the continuing pandemic. Many of these problems are not reported through official postal channels, but they are clear to mailers and consolidators tracking delivery and, of course, to residents. Some are unlikely to recover without restructuring,

with a few countries reporting “new” postal operators. In addition to the devastating costs of death and displacement, the Ukraine invasion has brought both a crisis in energy and in food supplies. Energy shortages, especially in European countries, affect delivery capabilities and costs. Shortages of basic food supplies contribute to inflation generally, but also disrupt the labor supply. China’s zero-COVID lockdowns have the potential to again disrupt the supply chain. Any complete closure of a city leads to shortages of whatever products are produced in the region; ports or transit hub closures exacerbate the problem, as with the closure of Shanghai earlier this year. The tensions with the US have an unknown impact, but Taiwan, the subject of major

8 PARCELindustry.com  CROSS-BORDER & GLOBAL 2022

tensions, produces over 50% of the global supply of semiconductors. Extreme weather causes loss of lives, infrastructure, and general disruptions. Mail or other shipments in transit are lost. Bridges and roads, houses and businesses, water and electric utilities are damaged or destroyed. Addresses change temporarily or permanently. (Again, the loss of life and human suffering need to be acknowledged. Unfortunately, these events are becoming more common worldwide). Some particular developments at the Universal Postal Union (UPU), in the European Union (EU), and at the USPS will also affect — or potentially affect — US international mailers. POTENTIAL STRUCTURAL REFORM? The UPU, the UN specialized agency