A Hong Kong legislator has called on the government to study the impact of persistently high terminal handling charges on the local economy and to have charges reduced to more reasonable levels. Liberal Party legislator Kenneth Ting Woo-shou told a Legco meeting that he advocated the creation of a government body to monitor charges and to help set reasonable pricing levels in co-operation with the shipping industry and shippers. Mr Ting, who is also chairman of toy-maker Kader Holdings, said that despite Hong Kong's lengthy bout with deflation in its wider economy, terminal handling charges 'have not gone down one cent'. 'This will impede growth in our import and export trades,' he said, adding that it should be the Port and Maritime Board's (PMB) role to police the level of charges. 'Terminal handling charges are really high and unreasonable, even the Consumer Council says so. Shipping lines always rip off shippers, who have no bargaining power,' Mr Ting said. He said shippers spent about HK$24 billion annually on terminal handling charges, of which 40 per cent went directly into the pockets of the port operators and shipping lines as profit. 'The Hong Kong government should change its laissez-faire attitude and work actively to have terminal handling charges reduced,' Mr Ting said. A spokesman for the Shippers Council, a body of Hong Kong's major exporters, said that while Hutchison International Terminals (HIT) and Modern Terminals (MTL) executives have said in recent years that container handling charges have gone down by 20 to 25 per cent, this was not reflected in their terminal handling charges to shippers. Mr Ting said a survey of shippers made by the Liberal Party indicated that 94 per cent of respondents felt that charges were too high and should be reduced.