Barbados and the Caribbean appear to be lagging behind most of the world in using the global postal system’s Express Mail Service (EMS) to boost exports through e-commerce and small package deliveries, experts said here today.
Express Mail Service (EMS) is the Universal Postal Union’s answer to commercial shippers DHL and FedEx, provided through the Barbados Postal Service.
But as the volume of packages moved by EMS pushes past the 70-million marker and heads for a fresh milestone, the region’s use of the intergovernmental courier service is on the decline.
The revelations come as the UPU began a workshop today to bring EMS providers in the region up to speed on international developments that could affect their involvement in the service.
EMS Cooperative Chairman Patrick Rochon told the participants that despite tremendous growth the worldwide express mail service was experiencing, he was disappointed the Caribbean region was not faring as well as it could.
“Our environment is increasingly more challenging but we grew by eight per cent compared to 2017. We have also broken the annual 70 million EMS volume barrier for the first time ever, so our next goal is 100 million.
“In terms of end-to-end performance, [the time between when the item leaves the sender and when it is reaches the recipient] ten per cent of our members were able to guarantee delivery in two days, and half of them four days, which is quite good.”
But in the Caribbean, EMS’s performance was down by 22 per cent, which Rochon attributed to increased use of commercial freighters DHL and FedEx.
Increasing online transactions have resulted in a much higher demand for faster delivery of purchases. Beyond that, some countries have also introduced, or are in the process of, introducing new systems to better trace such items.
But in the region, entrepreneurs have complained that a lack of affordable shipping options have hampered their ability to ship their goods regionally and internationally.
EMS Unit Manager Jane Dyer declared: “EMS cooperative members generated 20 per cent in export growth during the Doha business cycle. The current Istanbul cycle, which is now in its second year, is trending 30 per cent higher than the first two years of the previous one, and the global e-commerce market is expected to reach one trillion US dollars by 2020.
“In 2018, over 1.3 billion packages were shipped internationally through express mail services, mostly small packages and personal items, and this was an increase of over 25 per cent compared to 2017.
“We attributed this to a rising middle class, increased internet participation and cross border shopping. These transactions now represent ten per cent of all global trade, but by 2039, this is expected to increase to 43 per cent.”
Informing participants about some of the new trends in EMS traffic, Rochon said: “Last year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday EMS traffic far outdid Christmas performance, and other new events created by online retailers to boost sales also increased traffic all year round.
“Right now there are four main companies driving e-commerce, and as they create new services including same-day delivery, that will create challenges for EMS providers. Beyond that, the threat of trade wars between certain countries will affect international trade, and we are already seeing this with new tax regimes and customs regulations, as countries try to regulate the unfair competition e-commerce is bringing to local retailers.”
The current five-day workshop will concentrate primarily on helping regional post office-administered courier services become more aware of Electronic Advance Data (EAD), which more countries are demanding in an attempt to achieve greater transparency in e-commerce transactions.
“Everything going to China will need this by June 1; if you are not doing this your traffic will be blocked and China will have to capture the data, so you will be at the end of the queue. The United States will start on July 1 this year, Europe is starting in 2021, while Japan, Russia and India are also planning to implement it in a few years’ time.”
The UPU’s Express Mail Cooperative is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.