Impasse with government puts brakes on Uber in Taiwan

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Uber ads placed in major Taiwan newspapers in December 2016. One reads "The government suppresses new technology. So much for Taiwan being the Asian Silicon Valley!" (Photo credit: BuzzOrange)
Uber ads placed in major Taiwan newspapers in December 2016. One reads "The government suppresses new technology. So much for Taiwan being the Asian Silicon Valley!" (Photo credit: BuzzOrange)

The company will halt its Taiwan service as of Feb. 10.

US ride-sharing brand Uber yesterday announced its intention to "pause" its Taiwan service next week in a bid to "reset the conversation" with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Discussions with authorities about ride-sharing legislation have reached an "impasse" despite four years of operations in the market, according to the company.

Government officials insist Uber is illegally operating a transportation service, when it is licensed only as an "information service provider".

Uber said it has "listened intently to the feedback from the government and the people of Taiwan" on the steps to take to legalise its business, and has taken the following actions:

  • Consulted with the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Transportation and Communications
  • Expressed willingness to comply with the new cross-border e-commerce bill 
  • Secured a local insurance policy
  • Made several suggestions on ride-sharing regulations that mirror laws outside of Taiwan
  • Initiated efforts to collaborate with the local taxi industry

"Unfortunately, the government has moved further and further away from embracing innovation and setting the stage for a 21st century transportation policy," an announcement on Uber's website stated. 

Uber claims to have clocked more than 15 million trips in four Taiwan cities, and claims it was especially successful in outer suburban areas that are poorly served by taxis.

The company has been looking to hire a public policy lead in Taiwan to directly engage senior policy makers and government figures to ensure that the Taiwanese regulatory framework supports ridesharing apps like Uber, but to no avail.
 
This is the second time Uber has called it quits in Greater China, after the success of Didi Chuxing forced the brand's retreat from mainland China in August 2016.