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Uber plans to stop operating in Colombia at end of month

COLOMBIA UBER | 10 de enero de 2020

Taxi drivers protesting against ride-hailing companies Uber and Cabify clash with police on Oct. 23, 2017, in Bogota, Colombia. EPA-EFE/LEONARDO MUÑOZ

Bogota, Jan 10 (efe-epa).- US-based ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc. said Friday it would stop operating in Colombia on Feb. 1 due to the ban imposed by authorities on its service.

The company said in a statement released in Bogota that it would cease operations in the South American country in response to the order issued on Dec. 20 by the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (SIC).

Uber said it considered the SIC's decision "arbitrary" because it went against establish legal standards and violated the company's due process and constitutional rights.

The San Francisco, California-based company said it respected Colombian law but considered the SIC's decision to be due, in part, to the absence of a regulatory framework for the ride-hailing industry in Colombia.

Last month, the SIC ordered Uber to stop operating in Colombia during a hearing on a complaint filed by Cotech S.A, which provides telecommunications services to a taxi company.

Uber said it was the first company to provide a ride-hailing service in Colombia when it began operations in the country six years ago.

The company said that its Uber Eats food delivery service would not be affected by the SIC's order and users would be able to continue using the application.

Uber said it appealed the SIC's order immediately and would pursue all legal options in an effort to protect the right of its 2 million users to choose how they get around.

The US-based ride-hailing company said it had around 88,000 drivers registered in Colombia whose livelihoods had been affected by the regulatory agency's order.

On Thursday, Uber said it planned to sue the Colombian government, alleging that the SIC's order violated the free trade agreement with the United States.

The ride-hailing company said in a letter to President Ivan Duque that as a corporation domiciled in the US state of Delaware it was entitled to treatment as a "protected investor" in Colombia.

Uber said Uber Colombia was one of its subsidiaries and thus enjoyed a right to protection under the free trade agreement between Bogota and Washington.

The US-based ride-hailing company said Colombia had taken "arbitrary and discriminatory" measures against it under pressure from special interests that wanted to keep Uber out of the market.

State Judicial Defense Agency director Camilo Gomez said Thursday that he disagreed with the letter sent by Uber to the president, adding that "investment protection under the FTA (free trade agreement) has fundamental rules and investors must be protected, but they must also first and foremost strictly follow the rules of the country where they are investing."

Uber arrived in Colombia in 2013 and currently operates in about 12 cities under the Uber X, Uber Van and Uber services. EFE

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