The Hong Kong Shippers' Council says it is 'unfair' for trans-Pacific carriers to impose a $400 licence administration fee on shippers to cover time and expenses incurred in export licence document submissions to the Government. Council director Clement Yeung said the Asia North America Eastbound Rate Agreement (Anera) member lines' proposal to pass on any fines imposed by the Government in connection with the documents also was unacceptable. 'In certain circumstances, it is not the fault of shippers and I think shipping lines should be more accommodating,' he said. The trans-Pacific carriers announced that the fee and fine would come into effect on July 1. The carriers said in a notice that the shipper should pay the fine if: The original export licence for a specific commodity was rendered invalid due to incorrect information being provided by the shipper. The licence application was delayed due to a change of commodity description from a non-quota to a quota commodity. They said the fee should be assessed separately for each export licence and should be paid by the shipper prior to discharge of the cargo at its destination. Shippers would have a seven-day grace period after a vessel departed to notify the shipping line of a change in description from quota to non-quota cargo, during which it would not be subject to the fee. Mr Yeung said it was common for complications to arise in export licences. The most common was importers changing requirements resulting in changes to the quantity shipped out, or changes to shipping marks or to the number of cartons transported. 'Our standing is that we are all for shippers working with the shipping lines on the export licence documentations, which is important for Hong Kong to be seen as having a good control system in quotas,' Mr Yeung said. Otherwise, nobody would trust Hong Kong, he said. Mr Yeung said the council planned to raise the issue with Anera within the next few days. The council noted that eastbound trans-Pacific carriers had increased rates by 2 per cent from May 1. Anera increased the rates for a teu (20 ft equivalent units) by $75 to $2,140 and for a feu (40 ft equivalent units) by $105 to $2,855. The Intra Asia Discussion Agreement (Iada) had increased its rates by $300 per teu and $250 per feu from the start of this month. Mr Yeung said there was no suggestion that there would be any increase in Hong Kong-Europe rates. He said some lines had not increased rates on intra-Asia routes as proposed by Iada, especially on the Japan-Hong Kong services. He advised shippers to shop around for services which had not raised rates. Iada members serving the intra-Asia trade from Guangdong province also have introduced a levy - known as the Guangdong origin receiving charge - from June 1. The 45 members of Iada are charging $105 per teu and $210 per feu for dry cargo and $155 per teu and $310 per feu for refrigerated cargo. Iada said the charges were aimed at recovering some of the shoreside costs incurred by shipping lines in Guangdong.