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Under pressure, global postal system grapples with tech and costs

For only a second time in its 144-year history, the Swiss-based Universal Postal Union held an "Extraordinary Congress," this time under U.S. pressure to change international postal rates.

A monument to the UPU in the Swiss capital.
A monument to the UPU in the Swiss capital symbolizes the joining of continents to transmit messages around the world. (AN/J. Heilprin)

BERN, Switzerland (AN) — For only the second time in its 144-year history, the international postal organization held an "Extraordinary Congress" to assess a new century. This time, it grappled with a cost-shifting, high-tech world of email, text messages, online shopping and private delivery.

The Universal Postal Union, or UPU, faces some hard decisions providing the framework for the world’s widest distribution network. It gathered 1,000 people in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for five days of talks last week that led to agreement on simpler election procedures, better regional representation and lower member fees for small, developing island nations that struggle to pay UPU contributions.

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