Erdogan says Uber ‘finished’ in Turkey

A woman opens the UBER application on her mobile phone at the Eminonu district on March 30, 2018 in Istanbul. (AFP)
Updated 02 June 2018
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Erdogan says Uber ‘finished’ in Turkey

  • Drivers of Istanbul’s yellow taxis have over the last months waged an intense campaign to have Uber banned
  • Erdogan said that while Uber may be popular in some European countries, Turkey was different

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the ride hailing app Uber is “finished” in Turkey, following intense pressure from Istanbul taxi drivers for the service to be banned.
Erdogan’s comments, in a late night speech Friday in Istanbul, came after the government agreed new rules that are expected to severely complicate Uber’s operations in Turkey.
Drivers of Istanbul’s yellow taxis have over the last months waged an intense campaign to have Uber banned, saying the company is eating into their business without having a proper legal basis for work.
“This thing emerged called Uber or Muber or whatever,” said Erdogan. “But this issue is now finished. It’s over now.”
“Our Prime Minister (Binali Yildirim) made the announcement. We have our system of taxis,” he added.
Yildirim’s government last month issued a directive sharply hiking fines and threatened blacklisting for companies whose vehicles illegally work as taxis.
The official taxi drivers association said at the time the measure would be a major threat to Uber, if it was properly enforced by the traffic police.
Erdogan said that while Uber may be popular in some European countries, Turkey was different.
“Why did it (Uber) emerge? Because it was in Europe. But what is Europe to me? We will take the decision ourselves.”
His comments come three weeks ahead of keenly-contested presidential and parliamentary elections. Many Istanbul taxi drivers — though not all — are strong Erdogan supporters and the main taxi associations back him.
The 17,400 official yellow taxis in Istanbul are a pillar of the city’s often patchy transport system, but critics say that poor quality service and overcharging have given Uber an opportunity.
The yellow taxi drivers, on the other hand, slam Uber as “pirates” who are swallowing their incomes in an already tight market.
Uber has said it is committed to working in Turkey and insisted it is operating within the law.
“We want to work in cooperation with all the relevant stakeholders to improve transportation options in Turkey and we are committed long-term to Turkey, to the end, as a loyal partner,” it said in a rare Turkish statement this week.
The tension in Turkey is one of a number of headaches for Uber and its new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over last August after founder Travis Kalanick was ousted following a series of scandals.


Brexit bullion: Fear of no-deal triggers Irish gold rush

Updated 29 min 21 sec ago
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Brexit bullion: Fear of no-deal triggers Irish gold rush

DUBLIN: In a vault under the streets of Dublin a pot of gold owned by anxious investors is growing every day Britain edges closer to leaving the EU without a deal.
“They’re worried about a significant devaluation in sterling if there’s a hard Brexit,” said Seamus Fahy.
Fahy is co-founder of Merrion Vaults, a gold brokerage and safe deposit facility in the center of the Irish capital.
Over 2018 — as the prospect of Britain crashing out of the EU turned from a scare story into a very real prospect — he has seen a 70 percent rise in clients from the British province of Northern Ireland.
“Customers are taking money — physical money — out of the bank and they’re buying gold bullion with us to store it, and it’s a hedge,” Fahy explained.
There is no equivalent facility in Northern Ireland.
With the border only an hour away it is no long trip to secure peace of mind as Britain risks a split with the EU critics are branding a “cliff-edge Brexit.”
Set in the basement of an unassuming grey office block, Merrion Vaults does not advertise its presence to passersby, marked only with a coy plaque reading “Merrion Private.”
Down an elevator, past a manned security booth and a fingerprint scanner — as well as a hefty metal safe door — is a caged vault, ranked with 3,000 double-locked deposit boxes.
Their full contents are known only to clients. But Fahy knows that inside many are glimmering stashes of gold.
Numerous customers have spent over £500,000 (560,000 euros) on their precious nest eggs.
The most popular items are one ounce (30 gram) gold bars and coins: handsomely polished South African Krugerrands, Canadian Maple Leafs and British Britannias worth in the region of £1,100 (1,200 euros) each.
They have increased in value by around 10 percent in the past six months, according to Fahy’s ledger.
When news of the 2016 Brexit vote broke, gold surged as sterling plunged to levels not seen since 1985.
The result was a historic 22 percent jump in gold valued in British currency terms.
In December, when British Prime Minister Theresa May pulled the parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal, Fahy also saw a “big uptick” in demand.
Pundits saw that as the most foreboding indication yet of a no-deal Brexit on March 29.
The prospect of the fallout sinking sterling seems to be making investors skittish.
“In times of crisis you always see what’s called this ‘flight to safety’ — so people go into US government bonds, gold bullion, Swiss francs etc.,” said Fahy.
The future status of Northern Ireland — the so-called “Irish backstop” — is at the crux of the Brexit conundrum and has added particular concerns on the island.
“You often see local events driving local demand,” said Alistair Hewitt, head of market intelligence at the World Gold Council.
But Hewitt said that the Brexit gold rush may have already peaked in the rest of Britain, with “an upsurge of activity” around the vote itself.
“Over the course of the past two years that’s probably petered out a little bit. I think lots of investors have probably suffered a bit of Brexit fatigue.”