Discussion Papers

Hilke Smit

Regulierung und Wettbewerbsentwicklung auf dem neuseeländischen Postmarkt
Nr. 212 / Dezember 2000


In New Zealand the reform of the postal sector started already in the 80ies. The postal sector reform then formed a part of a wider reform process of the whole economic system in order to increase the efficiency and performance of the economy. The underlying principle of this reform process was the replacement of the interventionist and protectionist attitude of the state by a more liberal and market oriented economic system.

The reform of the postal sector during these times was twofold. Firstly, the Post Office was transformed into a state owned enterprise and as such had to undergo a major restructuring process in order to become competitive. Secondly, the creation of a competitive framework for the postal market was one of the major tasks of the reform process. After a eleven year period of gradually reducing the monopoly area of New Zealand Post in 1998 remaining privileges and monopoly areas for New Zealand post were abolished. Since then there have been no restrictions for competitors to enter the postal market even in the letter mail segment. Moreover, an agreement was negotiated with New Zealand Post that obliges New Zealand Post to offer network access. This network access obligation enables competitors to compensate for their insufficiently large own network at the time of their market entry. Thus, competition is not only possible on a local scale but also increasingly on a national scale. The market development that is triggered by this competitive framework is accompanied by a light handed regulatory system which in accordance with the liberal ideas of the reform process resigns to implement a sector specific regulatory authority and tries to minimise as far as possible state intervention into the market process.

The central aim of the reform process was to increase market performance with respect to the satisfaction of customer needs and thus to quality and price. The evaluation of these central parameters of customer satisfaction show that the reform process has been fairly successful. The situation in the postal market today is determined by low prices, high service standards and an increased efficiency. Even the common fear that a universal service and a unitary tariff will not be guaranteed in a liberalised market proofed to be groundless. Although the state does not pay any compensation for the universal service, New Zealand Post more than fulfils the agreed universal service standards and maintains a uniform national letter mail tariff.

Although the reform process and market liberalisation proof to be successful after two years of competition, it is uncertain whether this development will be sustainable in the future. It has to be assumed that most of the pressure especially on New Zealand Post to improve customer satisfaction has to be attributed to the fear of market entry of potential competitors as the actual competition still remains weak. Whether this will change in the future highly depends on the functioning of the regulatory framework and the behaviour of New Zealand Post. Anyhow, there is the danger that the pressure attributed to potential competition might decrease as New Zealand Post makes the experience that a market entry that really affects New Zealand Post is not easy and takes quite a long time during which the company can adjust to the new situation.

Only German language version available.

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