According to Reuters, the Trump Administration began the yearlong process of withdrawing from the Universal Postal Union on Wednesday, arguing that the organization costs the United States millions each year with its subsidies to foreign shippers.

Established in 1874 with the Treaty of Berne, the Universal Postal Union is now an agency of the United Nations. The Union, headquartered in the Swiss capital, was meant to coordinate the postal services among member nations. It established three main standards for the shipment of mail:

  • There should be a uniform and flat rate to mail a letter anywhere in the world.
  • Every nation’s Postal Service should give equal treatment to foreign and domestic mail.
  • Individual countries should retain all monies collected by their postal services for international postage.

Following the signature of the Treaty, individual stamps were no longer needed for each country, a letter went straight through to its final destination, and rates for the shipping of international mail were standardized.

Standardization of rates has allowed goods from foreign countries to be shipped to the U.S. at similar rates to shipping the same goods domestically.