Uber seeks to stay in Taiwan through negotiation with government
By News Desk
08 February 2017

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) - Uber, which has succumbed to government pressure and decided to suspend its operations in Taiwan, is keen to negotiate with the government to find a solution that can keep its car-sharing services running in the country, a company executive said Wednesday.

Damian Kassabgi, director of Uber's public policy in the Asia-Pacific region, told the press that his firm is willing to subject itself to government regulations, but is keen to hold its “bottom line.”

Kassabgi said Uber had been running in Taiwan for three years, but was suspending its services in a bid to restart negotiations with the government.

Uber, having been slapped with hefty fines from a government that deems its car-sharing services illegal, announced last week it was suspending its operations starting Feb. 10.

Taiwan’s transport authorities have been adamant about subjecting Uber to laws that govern the country’s taxi services, but Uber had been refusing to group itself in with conventional services.

Addressing the worries that taxi services would be driven out of the market by ride-sharing operations, Kassabgi said that TV has not disappeared despite YouTube and newspapers still exist despite Google search.

He noted that more than 100 areas (including cities, states and countries) have started reexamining or revising their transport laws and regulations in response to the emergence of ride-sharing services.

He cited the approach Australia and Singapore have adopted as an example that Taiwan could follow in reexamining transportation laws to tackle the car-sharing concept.

Australia and Singapore legislate the novel concept without putting it in existing frameworks that compares the company to a to taxi service. 

They first allowed ride-sharing platforms to operate and then started to discuss how transport laws should be revised to accommodate the new service, according to the Uber executive.

Major issues concerning transportation services are mainly about fares, safety and licenses, and technology can solve many of the problems, he said.

He admitted that ride-sharing services must also be put under government scrutiny, but they were still different from taxis. 

He said Uber’s advantages come from its transparent fare schemes, car selections, and monitoring of the drivers’ records. He said that the firm’s technology could help reduce the amount of administrative resources that the government had to invest in monitoring transport services.

Asked if Uber would leave Taiwan completely if it failed to reach an agreement with the government, Kassabgi said the company hoped to achieve a -win-win” situation to avoid having to pull out of the Taiwanese market.

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