Uber hopes for negotiations with government

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — 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 ride-sharing service running in the country, a company executive said Wednesday. Damian Kassabgi, director of Uber public policy for Asia-Pacific, told the press that his firm was willing to subject itself to government regulations, but was also 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 ride-sharing services illegal, announced last week it was suspending its operations starting Feb. 10. Transport authorities have been adamant about subjecting Uber to the same laws that govern the country’s taxi services, but Uber has refused 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 had not disappeared despite YouTube and newspapers still existed despite Google. He said that more than 100 areas (including cities, states and countries) had started re-examining or revising their transport laws and regulations in response to the emergence of ride-sharing services. What Other Nations are Doing

He cited the approach Australia and Singapore had adopted as an example that Taiwan could follow in re-examining transportation laws to tackle the ride-sharing concept. Australia and Singapore legislated the novel concept without putting it in existing frameworks that deem the company a 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 these problems, he said. He admitted that ride-sharing services must also be put under government scrutiny, but said they were still different from taxis.

He said Uber’s advantages came from its transparent fare schemes, car selections and monitoring of 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.