THE ultimate abolition of the terminal handling charge (THC) and its incorporation into the base freight rate has become a major goal of the shippers' councils of Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan. In a joint statement issued after the 13th Tripartite Shippers' Councils Meeting in Tokyo, the councils agreed to work closely for an overall review of the THC and other surcharges levied by shipping conferences and rate agreements. The Asia North America Eastbound Rate Agreement (ANERA) has announced that it will raise Hong Kong THCs by 30 per cent from January 1. The rate will go up from $1,125 to $1,450 for a 20-foot container and from $1,500 to $1,950 for a 40-ft container. The Transpacific Westbound Rate Agreement (TWRA) has given notice that it will raise the THC at South Korean ports from January 1. The rate for a 20-ft container will rise 38 per cent to 73,000 won (about HK$700) and 54.5 per cent to 105,000 won for 40-ft and 45-ft containers. The councils also reaffirmed that co-operation, involving an exchange of information on general transport issues such as air freight and surface transport, was imperative to protect the interests of shippers in the region and expanding Asian trade. The Hong Kong Shippers' Council (HKSC) was represented by vice-chairman Ernest Kwan and executive director Clement Yeung. Apart from reviewing the reports on recent activities of each council, the two-day meeting discussed the: Imposition of surcharges such as the THC, container handling charge (CHC) and the yen appreciation surcharge (YAS). Issue of rate restoration on European and American trades. Consultation problems with ''super'' agreements, such as the the Transpacific Stabilitation Agreement (TSA) and the Intra-Asia Discussion Agreement (IADA). Logistics problems posed by the rapid cargo increase to and from China. The statement said the councils had ''recognised and agreed'' that collaboration among shippers' councils was of utmost importance under the present economic and trading conditions when shippers faced significantly increased transportation costs, particularly as a result of THCs, CHCs and YAS. Meaningful consultation with freight bodies was one of the main themes of discussion. According to Mr Yeung, THCs are the biggest problem facing the shippers at present. All three councils expressed strong opposition to the recent steep increases in THCs - proposed or implemented. ''The councils deplored as totally unjustified these increases, which have added unacceptable burden on shippers in the region,'' the statement said.