Uber says Taiwan's steps against it hurting citizens

Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:13am EST
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By J.R. Wu

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] urged Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to let the island's people decide whether they want Uber services in Taiwan, the latest salvo in the wrangle between the authorities there and the global ride-hailing service company.

Uber's comments were made in an open letter to the island's president posted on its website on Thursday.

They came after transport authorities said this week they would ask Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) and Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O: Quote) Google to pull Uber's apps available in Taiwan from their app stores, including UberEATS, its newest meal takeaway service.

Late last month, Taiwan's cabinet said policymakers had reached a consensus on raising potential fines that would affect Uber's operations in Taiwan from at most T$150,000 ($4,707.36) now to as much as T$25 million.

"These developments directly threaten the interests of over a million Taiwanese citizens, especially the mothers, fathers, retirees, professionals, and the otherwise unemployed who have come to rely on the economic opportunities Uber has created," Uber said in the letter signed by Mike Brown, regional general manager of Uber Asia Pacific.

Uber operates in Taiwan as an internet-based technology platform rather than as a transportation company, which Taiwanese authorities have said is a mis-representation of its service and ordered it to pay back taxes. However, Uber has said it complies with local regulations, including paying its taxes.

Uber has been facing similar legal scrutiny in markets across Asia. It entered the Taiwan market in 2013, and its growing popularity has triggered anger from domestic taxi drivers, who staged a massive protest against Uber earlier this year.

Appealing to Tsai's push to turn Taiwan into a Silicon Valley in Asia, Uber said it wanted to bring more services, like tech-powered carpooling and self-driving vehicles, to the island.   Continued...

A photo illustration shows the Uber app logo displayed on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph in central London, Britain October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Illustration