I shipped an old Counterpoint DAC to Japan last year (USPS)...I don't recall it being all that expensive? ($50-$60).
I recently sent a 21 lb. package to Cape Town, SA via UPS Worldwide Saver (Express). It arrived in 4 days in perfect shape, but, and this is a huge but, at a cost of $331.50. This, believe it or not, included a significant discount which I receive from UPS for shipping about 900 packages a month. How's that for being stupid? BTW, this was with no additional insurance purchased.
Shipping anything more than an envelope from China through FedEX (the outfit I use) and the others is $100, minimum. So, you can imagine how much audio components like CD players, integrated amplifiers, and large tube monoblocks cost. Don't forget about the customs, duties, and other ancillaries that go on top of this.
I don't hold any particular wrath towards FedEX and these other companies, the price of oil has a lot to do with it. In fact, these companies are increasingly feeling the pinch, and I get a lot of attention from my sales rep who does all he can to work with me to find any and all creative ways possible to reduce my costs, as the more I ship, the more FedEX makes. These guys have been given a lot of leeway this year, which makes me think the company is feeling the pain in some major way.
The feature article of the June 13th edition of the Wall Street Journal dealt with the cost explosion in shipping goods from China. In 2000, it cost less than $3000 to ship a container from China to Long Beach, CA, today that cost has risen over $16K. We must accept this as the new reality, and adjust accordingly.
In my opinion, shipping is one of the biggest reasons that Chinese audio components no longer hold a price advantage whatsoever in comparison to their North American counterparts. Time on a CNC mill, as opposed to human assembly, is another reason. On top of that, the prices of commodities (steel, copper, plastic) and labor are all skyrocketing there.
I recently sold a very expensive power cord on AudiogoN. One potential buyer asked for a shipping quote to South America. The shipping cost was around $350 but the transaction still made sense for him due to the high cost of the cable, good price and low dollar exchange rate.
Problem was, on this shippment, like most overseas ones, you cannot get delivery confirmation. I told him that without some type of delivery confirmation, I was unwilling to do the transaction. He then got angry and rude, telling me that he had done many transaction and never had a problem. I told him there was no way I was proceeding.
Anyway, if you want to ship something like an amp overseas, the cost will be astronomical.