Taiwan plans to ask Apple and Google to remove the Uber app from their app stores as the government puts pressure on the ride-hailing company to halt its businesses in the country, Reuters reported.
The country’s Investment Commission said in August Uber may be asked to leave Taiwan because it operates as an internet-based technology platform rather than a transportation service and has misrepresented the nature of its operations. The government said Uber owes sales taxes estimated at TWD100 million ($3.2 million).
Liang Guo-guo, a representative for Taiwan’s Directorate General of Highways, told Reuters: “Uber has not done what it says it will do, so we are looking at another way by requesting its apps be removed from Apple and Google.”
Liang said it would also request that its new UberEats app, which Uber launched in Taiwan this week, be moved from the app stores. Taiwan transport authorities reportedly have started fining UberEats motorcycle drivers making deliveries and suspended vehicle licences for two to six months.
Uber said it is in talks with government officials and complies with all local regulations. In an open letter to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen posted on its website, Uber urged the leader to let citizens decide if they want its ride-hailing service in Taiwan, Reuters reported.
“These developments directly threaten the interests of over a million Taiwanese citizens… and the otherwise unemployed who have come to rely on the economic opportunities Uber has created,” Mike Brown, regional general manager of Uber Asia Pacific, said in the letter.
Uber is not new to controversy over its business model and practices and has faced challenges from many governments and taxi groups over its debatable legal status.
Indonesia’s government in June warned operators of taxi-hailing services, including Uber, it will more tightly enforce new regulations. Under Indonesian traffic law it is illegal for an individual to provide public transport services – drivers must obtain special public transport licences and operate under a cooperative or company.
Uber also has cut back its ride-hailing service in Hong Kong and other markets to focus on ride-sharing as well UberEats, as it moves to diversify is business model.
And in late July Uber gave into shareholder pressure and merged its loss-making Chinese business with local rival Didi Chuxing, as it separately invested $500 million in a global mapping project. The merger, which requires regulatory approval, will pull together Didi’s car hailing business, valued at $28 billion, and Uber China, worth an estimated $7 billion.