The costs of clearing customs

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The BBC reports a particularly striking example of the costs of red tape:

British charity Oxfam has had to pay the Sri Lankan government $1m in import duty for vehicles used in tsunami reconstruction work. Paperwork had kept the 25 four-wheel drive vehicles idle in the capital, Colombo, for a month... Britain's Daily Telegraph said Sri Lankan customs had charged $5,000 a day while the vehicles were processed. Oxfam was given the choice of handing over the vehicles to the government, re-exporting them or paying the 300% import tax.

Doesn't seem ideal. The next report from the World Bank's Doing Business project will be published in autumn, and one of the new topics is the cost of getting through customs.

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