China Shenhua Energy will start to import coal from Indonesia and Australia to southern China, the South China Morning Post reported. The import plan, announced by Shenhua Chairman Chen Biting, is seen as a response to domestic coal prices becoming more competitive than international prices. Chen said that shipping coal from overseas costs far less than moving it south from the northern coal-producing regions of China. He stressed that this move would not affect Shenhua's export volume, which came to 23.9 million metric tons out of total sales of 171 million metric tons last year. Beijing has pushed to keep domestic sales high by abolishing the 8% rebate on value-added tax collected on imports and imposing a 5% export tax. Coal import duty has gone from 3-6% to zero. China's coal exports fell to 63.3 million metric tons last year from 94 million metric tons in 2003 and the country became a net coal importer for the first time in at least five years during the first two months of 2007.