The radical Democrats’ impeachment squad and much of the American media are missing a great presidency. Just last week, in a single day, President Trump signed a historic Japanese trade deal in New York as a White House-led team negotiated a radical reform of the Universal Postal Union in Geneva.
Regarding the radical reform of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), this should be the deal heard round the world. It aptly demonstrates that President Trump will no longer tolerate multinational organizations like the UPU and World Trade Organization treating America like a piggy bank – even as the historic deal underscores America’s diplomatic willingness to work within the framework of international organizations when we and our friends and allies are treated with fairness and respect.
Under the UPU’s antiquated “terminal dues” system, the U.S. Postal Service was being forced to subsidize a flood of small parcels, primarily from China, to the tune of half a billion dollars a year. This not only harmed the Postal Service, but also gave China an unfair competitive advantage against American manufacturers and workers. Incredibly, under UPU rules, it was cheaper to send a package from Shanghai to New York than from Chicago or Los Angeles to New York.
To fix this insanity, a White House-led interagency team worked in Trump time – which is to say as quickly as possible – to get the best deal for the American people.
In Step One, President Trump ordered a withdrawal from the UPU within one year, the earliest by the terms of the treaty.
In Step Two, our team worked with the UPU leadership and our allies on a solution that would allow the U.S. to immediately self-declare our own rates at a level high enough to recover our costs and end the economic distortion — our core demands.
Step Three was to hold an Extraordinary Congress that would allow the UPU’s 192 members to vote on a reform package that would keep the U.S. inside the organization.
As our team arrived last week in Geneva for that congress, skeptics said a deal couldn’t be done while alarmists warned that a hard break from the UPU would be catastrophic for the international mail system. Yet the Trump team stuck to its guns, secure in the knowledge that we had prepared for a seamless transition if necessary and that other members of the UPU needed the U.S. far more than the U.S. needed the UPU. (Roughly 40 percent of all international mail travels to or from the United States.)
Over the course of four days in Geneva, we worked hard on a package that would provide relief not just to the U.S. but to other disadvantaged countries that have been hit just as hard by the Chinese flood of cheap counterfeit goods and illicit substances via e-commerce. To that end, we insisted on some reforms that neither helped nor hurt the U.S. but nonetheless helped our friends and allies.
For example, even as the U.S. would get immediate self-declared rates, we insisted on a relatively rapid phase-in schedule of self-declared rates for countries like Brazil, Canada, Japan and Norway. We also had the backs of smaller and less developed countries in the UPU, by supporting an innovative proposal from the South African delegation that exempted low-mail-tonnage countries.
Predictably, China, the primary beneficiary of the terminal dues system, did everything it could to block the U.S. coalition. To that end, and as part of its “one belt, one road” new brand of colonialism, Chinese negotiators tried to quietly bully recipients of its checkbook diplomacy, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia, to vote against the reform. Yet in the end, the congress adopted the final proposal by unanimous acclamation – a clear validation of the strong leadership of Donald J. Trump.
Viewed from a strategic perspective, this was a quintessential example of new and innovative Trumpian diplomacy. Set the terms of the negotiation rather than let an international organization drag us into the trap of “further studies.” Make clear asks and define what success looks like. Have the backs of our friends and allies. Stay strong even when the swamp lobbyists are up in arms and the odds are moving against a deal. Stay firm on our negotiating positions and ALWAYS be willing to walk.
Of course, instead of featuring this historic UPU event – along with the Japanese deal – cable news airwaves were clogged by a bevy of self-righteous and sanctimonious commentators attempting to drag America into yet another witch hunt.
What we are witnessing writ large is the simultaneous devolution of America politics and journalism at the sacrifice of important opportunities to improve the lives of Americans. What we are missing in the endless witchhunt news cycle is a fair and accurate accounting of what history will surely judge to be one of the greatest presidencies in modern times.