Terminal operators want security fees Container terminal operators are determined to impose cargo security fees from next month despite a rejection of the levy in south China by many of the same shipping lines that use Hong Kong. From Sunday, operators at Kwai Chung will charge $50 a laden box for all direct shipments outside Asia as they look to recover additional infrastructure and labour costs related to United States-led security initiatives against terrorism. 'We will proceed as scheduled even though discussions [with the lines are continuing],' a port executive said. 'They may end up being small concessions but it won't be much, perhaps something like a two-month deferral [of payment] to give the lines more time.' A levy of 50 yuan from March 1 for all boxes except relay cargo and empties was rejected by shipping lines calling at ports in Shenzhen, with invoices returned unpaid and a demand for evidence of the terminals' security-related costs. Like their Shenzhen counterparts, Hong Kong operators will not charge for empties or relay cargo but they want a fee of $20 per box for intra-Asia shipments. It is thought the levy could add $1.5 billion to the cost of shipping manufactured goods from the region at a time when volume growth in Hong Kong is already stagnating. Terminal operators say the aggregate cost may be as much as 50 per cent of that total. The port of Singapore moved more cargo than Hong Kong in the first quarter for the first time in seven years. According to a shipping executive, Hongkong International Terminals (HIT), the port's biggest operator, said its one-off security-related costs had reached $200 million and it expected its related recurring annual outlay to be as much as $60 million. A spokeswoman for Hutchison Whampoa, which controls HIT, declined to comment yesterday. Hutchison fought a six-month battle with carriers and cargo owners to get a separate security fee implemented at its ports in Felixstowe and Rotterdam last year. In England, it threatened to reject shipments from lines that refused to pay, according to carriers. 'In the end, we all caved in. Hutchison has an effective monopoly in the UK,' said an executive with an Asian shipping line. 'If they try that here, we'll just move over to DPI (the new Dubai Ports International-owned terminals).' The two berths at Container Terminals 8 West now run by DPI , have been idle for more than a year. It is understood that terminal operators are working to convince large shipping lines to accept the charge in the belief that others will then fall in line. With only five days left before the implementation date, another port executive said he believed the deadline might pass without invoices being sent out, but that carriers were warming to the idea. 'We've showed them our capital costs and our running costs going forward,' he said. 'The strict timing is less important than the fact that we are making progress.'