TAIPEI Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] stated it can droop its service in Taiwan from Feb. 10, firing the most recent salvo within the ride-hailing service firm’s long-running dispute with the island’s authorities over mounting fines.

Uber’s transfer comes after Taiwan lately raised fines in opposition to unlicensed ride-sharing providers, focused at Uber, which the corporate stated had been the very best on the earth. Taiwan has maintained Uber’s enterprise is illegitimate, and at one level final yr even thought of ordering it to go away the home market.

The U.S.-based agency has been requested to pay T$328.59 million ($10.57 million) in fines up to now, with over half the sum slapped on it since early January, when increased penalties of as a lot as T$25 million per infraction took impact, in accordance with figures from Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications. Uber has paid T$68.25 million thus far, the ministry stated.

The firm has protested fines in opposition to it and defended its mannequin, and in November issued an open letter to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to intervene, interesting to her push to show Taiwan right into a Silicon Valley in Asia.

But the upper fines appear to have pushed issues to a head.

“We will pause our operations until the president and her government find a solution,” Damian Kassabgi, director of Uber’s public coverage in Asia-Pacific, stated in an emailed assertion.

Uber stated there was no timeline for a way lengthy the suspension would final. The suspension wouldn’t have an effect on UberEATS, its the meal takeaway service that depends totally on scooters for deliveries and was launched in November final yr on the island.

“From the view of protecting consumer rights, the government must have some control,” Hu Ti-chi, a ministry official, advised a information briefing on Thursday. “Our position has never been to chase Uber out. If there is anywhere we can counsel we will provide it, but it must be a legitimate business.”

Uber operates in Taiwan as an internet-based expertise platform moderately than as a transportation firm, which native taxi corporations and Taiwanese authorities have stated is a misrepresentation of its service.

The firm has argued that it offers a expertise service and has stated there are over 10,000 driver-partners, primarily native residents, registered on its platform in Taiwan who use the chance afforded by Uber to earn cash.

Hu stated if Uber isn’t regulated as a transportation firm, it may be regulated as a transportation service supplier and collaborate with native taxi corporations. There was room to debate the way it could possibly be regulated, Hu stated.

Uber stated in a press release that it had taken the initiative in discussions with Taiwan, together with securing native insurance coverage and reaching out to collaborate with the native taxi trade.

Uber, headquartered in San Francisco, has been going through related authorized scrutiny in markets throughout Asia. With steep fines imposed on its drivers in Macau, Uber had determined to tug out of the Chinese-ruled playing hub, though later it aborted the plans citing help from residents.

In Japan, which bars non-professional drivers from providing taxi providers, it was blocked by authorities from establishing in two cities whereas it additionally confronted opposition from established taxi operators. But a window of alternative lastly cracked open with the ride-hailing agency beginning pilot providers for aged individuals in rural cities final yr.

In Tokyo, Uber operates as a journey agent, connecting customers to established taxi firm drivers.

(Reporting by J.R. Wu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Himani Sarkar)

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