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Brazil lawmakers vote to regulate Uber, other apps

BRASILIA, April 4 (Reuters) - Brazil's Lower House of Congress voted on Tuesday to give cities greater power to regulate ride-hailing app Uber and other transportation apps, paving the way for local governments to charge taxes, require insurance and pension benefits for drivers.

In a symbolic vote, a majority of lawmakers approved the main text of the bill and continued to vote on specific items such as allowing municipalities to charge for licenses. Once those amendments are voted on, the bill still needs to clear the Senate.

Although its overall impact is not immediately clear ,the legislation could increase the cost of the ride-hailing app in Latin America's biggest consumer market.

Brazilian taxi unions and many politicians have accused Uber of unfair competition, triggering protests by taxi drivers in some cities and even attacks against Uber drivers.

Adding to Uber's woes in Brazil, Spanish rival Cabify earlier on Tuesday announced an investment of $200 million to bolster its participation in South America's largest country.

Before the vote, Uber said in a statement that the bill sought to prohibit such ride-hailing apps in Brazil by turning them into conventional taxi operators.

An Uber spokesman also said the company would comment once all the amendments are voted in the Lower House. (Reporting by Alonso Soto)