In 1874, the Treaty of Bern was signed, establishing the Universal Postal Union, which served to set international carrier rates for mail and shipping. Because China was considered a “developing country,” then, and explicable still is today, it got a sweetheart deal on shipping to the United States. Although less of a problem intially, the growth of China’s exports resulted in a system where the USPS was paying between $300-500 million annually subsidizing foreign imports.
The bizarre impact of the old policy meant that a New Jersey-based company like Mighty Mugs had to spend $6.30 to deliver a single mug, while a counterfeit version could be sent from China for only $1.40. According to Mighty Mugs owner Jayme Smaldone, it gets worse with heavier packages:
“We pay up to $17.61 to mail a four-pound package, but a shipper in China pays $3.67.”
It should come as no surprise that Chinese knockoff sellers can easily undercut American products by offering significantly lower prices.
Thankfully, things are changing. Under a new agreement that goes into effect in July 2020, the United States will be permitted to self-declare shipping rates, hopefully leveling the playing field for struggling small businesses within its borders. As Pete Navarro said:
“China is certainly going to pay more for the privilege of shipping to our market.”
And it only look over 100 years.