Georgia’s Competition Agency is studying the activities of Yandex Taxi in Georgia following complaints of local taxi companies claiming that Yandex violates Georgia’s competition laws.
Yandex Taxi is Russia’s largest, online taxi-booking service.
Georgian company ‘Taxi Service’ and a trade union representing Georgian taxi drivers argued that Yandex Taxi, which entered the Georgian market in August of 2016, offers its services at a much lower price than other local taxi companies, effectively employing an anti-competitive approach and working outside the industry’s competition laws.
Head of Georgia’s Competition Agency Nodar Khaduri said his office would study the case and act in accordance with legislation.
"We have already started preliminary work. We have contacted the relevant agencies of our neighbouring countries, including Armenia”, Khaduri said.
He explained that Armenia’s competition regulator also had a similar experience with Yandex Taxi. In October 2016, the State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition of Armenia issued a warning to Yandex Taxi after the agency proved that the Russian company had been carrying out anti-competitive activities in Armenia.
The Commission said that not only did the taxi service not make a profit during its several months of operations in Armenia, but even lost money. Despite this, the company paid its drivers much better than other local taxi companies. The agency said that such activities could damage the interests of smaller taxi companies who would lose both drivers and clients as Yandex offered lower fees to passengers and higher salaries to drivers.
As concerns Georgia, Yanex Taxi prices are almost twice as cheap as that of local taxi companies.
Meanwhile, Yandex Taxi’s introduction to the Georgian economy last summer caused a controversy after a portion of Georgian citizens protested against the fact that Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region (so called South Ossetia), two of Georgia’s Russian - occupied regions, were not included in the map of Georgia on the company’s website. This was shortly corrected after numerous complaints were lodged with the company.