(EnergyAsia, July 8 2013, Monday) — Since July 7, Vietnam’s main coal trader has been hit with a higher tax rate of 13% to export the fuel, up from 10% as the government looks for ways to increase feedstock supply to the country’s power sector.

State-owned Vinacomin has been under pressure to reduce exports as the country’s power companies complain that they are unable to obtain sufficient coal supplies needed to generate electricity.

Vietnam is experiencing growing incidence of power blackouts that has badly affected the country’s main industrial and commercial operations along the southern coast, causing businesses and foreign investors to hold back expansion and even threaten a pull-out.

Vinacomin, which relies heavily on coal exports for its revenues, appears to be losing its battle against the country’s state-owned power companies to win the Prime Minister’s support.

Vinacomin has sought to blame the higher tax for a projected sharp decline in coal exports in coming months, from around 1.3 million tonnes per month in the first half of the year to 500,000 tonnes later in the year. This could lead to a 50% plunge in Vietnam’s coal exports for 2013 from last year’s 15 million tonnes.

The power companies have countered by stating that the coal industry is hurting from a global demand slowdown and a supply glut. Instead, they have criticised Vinacomin for being inefficient and uncompetitive.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam’s coal consumption rose by 9.15% to 21.5 million tonnes in the first half of the year.