Thu, Mar 28, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Uber seeks dialogue, may reassess Taiwan presence

By Kao Shih-ching  /  Staff reporter

Uber Technologies Inc yesterday said it would re-evaluate its presence in Taiwan if it could not talk with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications about regulatory changes within the remaining 30-day consultation period.

The ministry last month proposed changes to regulations covering the car rental industry, but Uber has not been invited to discuss the issue, Singapore-based Uber Asia-Pacific director of public policy and government relations Emily Potvin told a media briefing in Taipei.

The company understands and respects the Taiwanese government’s concern over the livelihood of taxi drivers, so it planned to offer a solution that should be good for everyone, Potvin said.

The “e-hail multipurpose vehicle plan” would allow taxi drivers to participate in the platform, she said.

However, Uber has not been given a chance to offer its solution, she said.

“Given that neither Uber nor Uber drivers have been invited to the three district forums that have been organized to discuss this issue, it seems that the Taiwanese government is willing to listen to certain voices, but not to others,” Potvin said.

Uber drivers’ livelihood would be affected by the proposed change, which would prohibit trips of less than one hour, provide any form of discounts to customers and require rental vehicles to “return to the garage” between trips, Potvin said.

As Taiwanese cities, such as Taipei, are not big, 90 percent of Uber trips in the nation take less than an hour, so under the new regulations, drivers would waste their time waiting an hour for the next trip and their earnings would be reduced, Potvin said.

“How is this appealing to any driver? And why would a driver want to continue as an Uber driver?” she asked.

The ministry, which has said it would amend the rules at national level, but private companies should talk to local governments, sends the wrong message to foreign companies that are investing in Taiwan, Potvin said.

“The message is that in Taiwan, rules can change and if there are some issues, you can go and talk to another level of government,” Potvin said, adding that these do not help build a healthy business environment.

Half of the 60-day consultation period has passed, with only 30 days left, she said.

Uber’s focus at the moment is to enter into a dialogue with the government, and it still remains very hopeful that the government would invite it and rental car drivers to the table, she said.

“However, if in 30 days we have not been able to join the conversation, and if the conversation ends within 30 days, we are going to have to reassess our presence in Taiwan,” Potvin said.

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