Are customs procedures in many countries often transparent and fair?
Most countries around the world engage in some level of 'protectionism' and have various customs duties, taxes, cesses and so on, to protect their own industries and businesses; and in addition, governments also wish to earn income via customs duties etc, on goods being imported and/or exported to and from various parts.
obviously, the volume funds involved in such customs transactions and in evaluating/assessing and monitoring customs flow, is often quite huge, in many countries-- and as such, there is always a dire need to have a very high level transparency and fairness/accountability of customs procedures (i.e. laws and processes) and management/adminstration of such services. Most countries around the world try their very best to maintain such standards.
However, it is impossible to ensure 100% full reiance on such systems, given human nature and the incentives involved; and especially in developing countries, various customs laws/regulations, processes and management and administration 'on ground' is often quite faulty and /or corrupt. This is generally bacause of a number of factors eg (a) poverty/low salaries of customs officials in such nations (b) lack of proper training /knowledge and planning and other forms of procedural systems and so on.
A small case study as shown in the link below might be helpful to illustrate some of the points in this regard.