South China's exporters have rejected suggestions that they will foot the bill for a new round of security surcharges proposed by the region's port operators. Terminal operators such as Hutchison International Terminals, Wharf (Holdings) and China Merchants last Tuesday began charging shipping lines 50 yuan for each laden container they moved through Shenzhen ports to recover costs they said they were incurring under new United States-driven security initiatives to fight terrorism. But the Hong Kong Shippers Council yesterday baulked at the shipping lines' suggestions that they would pass the fee on to the region's exporters. 'Security is a basic item that comes under every operator's list of services. From terminal operators to shipping lines, we expect them to be offering us secure services when we pay them, to handle the shipping of our goods,' council chairman Willy Lin Sun-mo said. 'For anyone in this transportation chain to be adding a 'security charge' is not justifiable.' Based on the 43.5 million boxes expected to pass through Shenzhen and Hong Kong in the next year and assuming 75 per cent will warrant the full fee, the surcharge will add more than $1.5 billion to the cost of shipping manufactured goods from the region. 'The trade would certainly want an accounting of where every cent is going, which I don't believe we shall ever see,' Mr Lin said. The terminal operators have yet to explain to their customers how they arrived at the 50-yuan level for the fee. Nor have they revealed how much they have spent on related security upgrades. The shipping lines earlier made similar demands for transparency in the billing process. A senior carrier executive said Shenzhen's terminal operators intended to invoice individual lines for their accumulated throughput at the end of the month. 'We'll probably send the unpaid invoice straight back to them,' he said. Hong Kong's terminal operators intend to start a similar $50 fee for laden boxes on May 1. Intra-Asia cargo will be billed $20 per box, while relay or transshipment cargo not linked to the Pearl River delta will be exempt from the levy on both sides of the border.