Senior executives of international shipping-line associations will attend a meeting in Hong Kong on Tuesday to work out a protracted dispute over fees. Government officials and shippers' representatives will also attend the meeting, to be held at the Central government offices. The meeting is expected to break a deadlock over terminal handling charges. Shippers and industrialists have attacked lines for raising the charges and other fees in the face of a deepening recession in Asia. The handling fees are designed to cover the costs of paying container terminals or mid-stream operators for loading or unloading containers, and other related costs. The Government is reportedly annoyed that the issue has not been resolved despite several meetings between shipping lines and shippers. Secretary for Economic Services Stephen Ip Shu-kwan repeatedly warned lines that the Government would intervene if the matter was not resolved. Mr Ip and Port and Maritime Board secretary Richard Yuen Ming-fai will represent the Government at the meeting while Hong Kong Shippers' Council chairman Chan Wing-kee and executive director Clement Yeung will represent shippers. In December, the dispute went before a Legislative Council panel which heard arguments from the lines, a terminal operator and the Hong Kong Shippers' Council. After hearing the arguments, the panel ordered the parties to improve communications to settle the dispute. The handling charge issue was first raised by the Hong Kong Shippers' Council and nine organisations, headed by the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, in May last year. They claimed the increases imposed by the lines - which came without an increase in fees by terminal operators - represented a disguised attempt to force up freight rates. The Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association defended the carriers, saying terminal handling charges were not monopolistic and their collection was up to individual lines and customers. Also scheduled to attend the meeting are Albert Pierce, executive director of the Transpacific Stabilisation Agreement and the Westbound Transpacific Stabilisation Agreement; Brian Conrad, managing director of Asia North America Eastbound Rate Agreement; Michael Finegan, chairman of the Intra-Asia Discussion Agreement; Melvin Tan, manager of the Far Eastern Freight Conference; and Roberto Gianneta, representative of shipping lines in Hong Kong.