It’s Time To Regulate Ridesharing And Pave The Road For An Innovation Driven Economy In Taiwan
Dear President Tsai,
Last week, the Legislative Yuan began considering a proposed change to the law that would raise fines against driver-partners on the Uber platform to the largest anywhere in the world – from NTD150,000 (US$4,700) to NTD25,000,000 (US$785,000). And on Tuesday, the Directorate General of Highways called for the removal of the Uber app from mobile app stores.
These developments directly threaten the interests of over a million Taiwanese citizens, especially the mothers, fathers, retirees, professionals, and the otherwise unemployed who have come to rely on the economic opportunities Uber has created. They also send a clear message to would-be startups to steer clear of Taiwan, deterring both local entrepreneurs and foreign investment.
President Tsai, by promoting Taiwan as “Asia’s Silicon Valley” and appointing a digital minister, your commitment to establishing a tech-friendly policy environment for startups to thrive is clear. We share this vision. We still see tremendous potential for the future of innovation in Taiwan. We want to partner with the country to bring this to reality by bringing more cutting-edge services here, from tech-powered carpooling to self-driving vehicles.
Since Uber arrived in Taiwan, we have met legislators, policymakers, academics, politicians, and representatives from the National Development Council, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, National Taxation Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and Communications, and Executive Yuan, including Digital Minister Audrey Tang this month.
We have submitted multiple proposals and updates in an effort to demonstrate our commitment to working together to recognize, and regulate, ridesharing, which is an entirely new technology and business model for Taiwan. We have also shared our global experience with digital services taxation to help resolve any tax-related concerns.
What we’ve seen and heard is that government bodies are doing their best to interpret and apply an existing law that is a poor fit for new technologies and business models. As you have noted, “Taiwan civil servants are not without aspiration, nor are they unwilling to support innovation; rather, they are tied down by an excess of laws,” and the role of government is “to guide and even create markets, such that the overall economy can lead industry toward innovation.”
So we ask you, President Tsai, to please guide the dialogue on innovation, by convening a public hearing on ridesharing and letting Taiwan decide. We believe it’s time to turn the conversation away from innovation-blocking actions and towards smart regulations that unlock economic opportunities and consumer choice for all. It’s time to show the citizens of Taiwan and the innovators of the world that Asia’s Silicon Valley is open for business.
Regional General Manager, Uber Asia Pacific