THE Hong Kong Shippers Council is bracing for another round of increases in terminal handling charges next year. Following the lead of the Far East Freight Conference, the Transpacific Stabilisation Agreement has given notice of its intention to raise the charges from February 1. The agreement said significant new increases in shoreside port and documentation costs throughout Southeast Asia and China had compelled member lines to raise related charges and fees for affected ports. It proposes to increase the Hong Kong handling charge from HK$1,690 per 20-foot equivalent unit (teu) to $1,875. The charge per 40-foot equivalent unit (feu) will rise from $2,250 to $2,500. The Hong Kong documentation fee will be increased from $70 to $75 per bill of lading or delivery order. The handling charge for Guangdong will rise from US$95 per teu to $110, and from $190 to $220 for all other container types. On November 15, the conference increased its Hong Kong handling charge from HK$1,486 to $1,686 per teu, while the handling charge per feu was raised from $2,091 to $2,491. Handling charges for Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are also being raised. The guideline adjustments are to be implemented by member lines individually or through the rate-making conference to which some of them belong, the transpacific agreement body said. The council's chairman Chan Wing-kee said it was studying the proposed increases and would get in touch with the Asia North America Eastbound Rate Agreement (Anera) to find out what its intentions were. Some Anera lines are members of the transpacific agreement, which groups 14 major ocean and inter-modal transportation companies that serve the trade from Asia to the United States. It provides member lines with a forum to discuss market conditions in the trade, exchange information and adopt rate and service policy guidelines. The transpacific agreement has also adopted a guideline Macau-operations charge of HK$70 per bill of lading, which will take effect on February 1. The charge follows increased handling charges imposed on carriers by Macau agents and operators. Transpacific agreement lines said cargo volumes in the eastbound trade lane from Asia to the US continued to show a growth trend, although at a slower pace than the near-record levels seen during last year. 'Carriers are continuing to invest in the trade and position themselves for long-term growth,' Robert Peavy, the agreement's administrator said. 'We see that in a positive way, as a vote of confidence in the future of the transpacific market.'