Argentina's Mendoza province becomes first to pass law allowing Uber

FILE PHOTO: Uber's logo is pictured at its office in Tokyo, Japan, November 27, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] got the green light on Tuesday to operate in Argentina’s Mendoza province when lawmakers there passed the country’s first law regulating ride-hailing applications.

Argentina’s Senate voted 24-14 in favor of the law which specifically allows such services in the country’s fifth-largest province by population, the legislature said on its website.

Uber has been operating in the capital Buenos Aires for more than two years despite court rulings ordering the company to stop and internet service providers to block its platform.

Uber has said that the lack of explicit regulation does not mean the service is banned, and that it obeys Argentine law, pays taxes and wants cities to pass ride-hailing regulations.

Mendoza’s government would likely issue regulations to put the law into effect in August, and Uber could begin operating in the province as soon as September, Mendoza newspaper Diario Uno reported.

“We are very excited about the government’s decision and the consensus reached by Mendoza’s lawmakers,” Uber’s general manager for the southern cone region of South America, Mariano Otero, said in a statement. “We are convinced we can contribute, and we expect to be in the province soon to do so.”

A Buenos Aires court in 2016 found Uber in violation of local transportation and labor standards.

While the company serves several cities in Brazil, Bolivia and Chile, it does not operate elsewhere in Argentina, according to its website.

The San Francisco-based company has clashed with governments in many cities and countries. Taxi services and labor groups have been frequent opponents of the Silicon Valley startup.

Reporting by Eliana Raszewski and Luc Cohen; Editing by Ross Colvin and Richard Chang