U.S. Housewares Fights China’s Consumer-Direct Postal Rate Advantage

Hard as it is to believe, a factory in China can ship a small package containing a housewares item using the United States Postal Service to a U.S. consumer at a significant discount to the rate charged that an American business shipping domestically pays— and that has some people up in arms.

Some is the correct term only because few people, even in the housewares industry, understand what’s going on with the shipping of those small, up to 2 kilograms, or about 4.4 pound, packages from China— and up in arms because those who have spent the considerable time necessary to grasp the situation want their colleagues to help pressure the powers that be into making substantial changes.

The powers that be include the U.S. State Department and Postal Service who, respectively, negotiate and administer a set of accords that establish American involvement with the Universal Postal Union (UPU), which the country entered at the time of the Lincoln administration. The purpose was to keep documents flowing around the globe. Today, the postal service, under the accords, treats small packages as something like letters for purposes of rates, which creates a set of challenges for U.S. business in the e-commerce era.

HomeWorld Business recently spoke with relevant government officials, housewares industry representatives, including from the International Housewares Association, and interested observers to outline what is happening as regards small package shipping and how the global postal network gives manufacturers, particularly in China, an edge on business based in the U.S. who ship small packages.

The accords and the way the Chinese government supports its small goods manufacturers have provoked consternation at many American businesses and more concerned observers are rallying support to effectively change the situation. And they are asking for more help.

For the full report, see the cover story, “Boxed In,” in the March 5 issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®.