Portuguese government approves postal liberalisation law

Portugal’s government has approved a draft law that will open the country’s postal market up to competition from the private sector. The move brings the Portuguese market in line with European Union liberalisation requirements, a year past Portugal’s deadline for adopting the measure within the 2008 EU postal services directive.

In a statement, Portugal’s Council of Ministers said the law would bring in full competition for both domestic and international services originating or terminating in the country.

National postal service CTT Correios de Portugal will maintain its status as provider of universal postal services until at least December 31, 2020, under the law.

The Council said the regulations would ensure the continuation of an “efficient” universal service, offering a quality of service while providing complete territorial coverage, in order to protect the interests of postal customers.

“This regulation is aimed at full liberalisation of the postal sector, keeping CTT as providing the universal postal service,” said the Council’s statement, “with the aim of giving the country a complete and coherent model, together with the guarantee of the exercise of free competition in the postal sector, effectively safeguarding the rights of users of postal services regardless of the nature of their service use.”

Portuguese ministers announced back in October that they plan to sell off CTT next year, as the country tries to bail itself out of its debt crisis.

CTT has seen its mail volumes declining by 4.6% this year, with the consumer and business shift to internet-based communications, with the 580m mailpieces handled in the first half of 2010 reduced to 553m in the first half of this year.

Third quarter

Today, the Portuguese regulator ANACOM issued new figures stating that mail volumes in Portugal fell 7.8% during the third quarter, compared to the same period last year, reaching 247.3m items.

Traditionally the quarter with the lowest volumes, the third quarter saw a 5.7% drop in volumes compared to the second quarter of the year.

Mail volumes including direct mail, letters and periodicals declined 8% year-on-year in the quarter, reaching 195m items, while in the competitive services including express and parcels, volumes declined 8.3% year-on-year to 52m items. Competitive services have seen their volumes dropping 32% since that area of the market was opened to competition at the end of 2006.

ANACOM said its analysis suggested that CTT Group retained a 96.7% share of the postal market, a 34% share of the courier market, with 52 authorised express providers now operating, and 91.7% share of the non-express competitive area where 12 companies operate.

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