Note d'Analyse
Groupe de recherche et d'information sur la paix et la sécurité
70 Rue de la Consolation, B-1030 Bruxelles
Tél.: +32.2.241 84 20 - Fax : +32.2.245 19 33
Internet : - Courriel : 
Date d'insertion : 16/06/2004

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Physical Inspections

This report was produced by COTECNA
in the framework of a research project initiated by
the Groupe de recherche et d’information sur la paix et la sécurité (GRIP)


One of the major problems is the difficulty of identifying the connections and responsibilities of organizations or people involved in the illicit production, transfer and use of small arms. When an investigation is done, it is rapidly confronted with the impossibility of working its way back to the source of the weapons and tracing the route they followed. In fact, weapons are not marked in a reliable and universal manner: Production and transfer that are legal at the outset are not systematically recorded which allows subsequent illicit transfers without the possibility of identifying the link in the chain where the re rerouting occurred. For the time being, only the packaging required for shipping ammunition and explosives is subject to international norms. Marking and tracing depend on the goodwill of states, producers and clients.

Your Research Group (GRIP) made following recommendations which will be discussed at the end of this month among international experts of various states :
- Marking at the manufacturing stage: all weapons should be recorded at national and international levels in a common register accessible to states and authorized investigators. The recording of weapons in circulation and remarking of those that do not show any marking should be mandatory,

- The establishment of an international agency, with national offices and backed by to increase transparency, collect information related to international transfers, ensure after sale follow up and initiate investigations in the event of illicit routing or uses.

Political will is crucial to the success of this project. However, the measures are facilitated by the development of new information technology and the emergence of marking techniques.

Our company COTECNA Inspection S.A. founded in 1975 in Geneva is the leader in the areas of supply chain security, Computerized Risk Management System, X Ray Scanning Technology (COSEC), Compliance Tracking and Monitoring Solutions (COTRACK), vehicle ship and containers tracking, and Customs Valuation Assistance (ValueQuest).

COTECNA Inspection S.A. in coordination with States Authorities could implement a Comprehensive Physical Inspection Scheme: inspections at manufacturer’s premises, at loading, discharge and at the entrance of civilian or military buyers’ warehouses. Information collected along the supply chain by our inspectors will continuously update a centralized common database accessible to authorized Authorities. COTECNA Inspection S.A. could also coordinate controls of the marking at the manufacturing stage with the most appropriate technology.

We could also work with the Authorities on a pilot project.

Description and History of the Group’s Activities

Group Headquarters :

58, Rue de la Terrassière
P.O. Box 6155
1211 Geneva 6 · Suisse
Tel (+41 22) 849.69.00 · Fax (+41 22) 849.69.89
Tlx: 413107 cot ch ·

History of the Group’s Activities


COTECNA INSPECTION S.A. is a limited liability company independent of any activity associated with financing, manufacturing, selling and/or marketing of products. The registered office of the company is located in Geneva, Switzerland.

COTECNA INSPECTION S.A. was established in 1975, following identification of the need by several Governments to protect their foreign exchange resources. At a very early stage, COTECNA concentrated its activities on the Preshipment “Customs type” inspection of equipment, machinery, electrical products and industrial plants to assess whether all specifications complied with the appropriate contractual specifications and conditions. As the Company developed, the field of activities was extended to include steel products, basic commodities, chemical products, petroleum and oil products as well as agricultural food- and foodstuffs.
Since then, COTECNA INSPECTION S.A. has founded numerous subsidiaries throughout the world and its network is now well established in North and South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

In Asia, COTECNA INSPECTION S.A. operates through OMIC LTD. and has a long-standing relationship which started in 1984.
This long standing collaboration has led the two companies to decide to take crossed equity participations, so as to better tighten the existing links between the two partners and harmonize the development of the two companies.

Cotecna Innovative Solution Services


The CRMS is an automated Customs solution that uses Econometrical modeling to identify the relevant criteria for assessing the Risk associated with trade transactions.

The CRMS applies criteria in a systematic manner to determine the level of Risk for each transaction and assigns levels of Customs intervention according to the Risk level and Resources capacity available. Benefits of the CRMS:

- Protect revenue
- Enhance security
- Facilitate trade
- Efficiently utilizes customs and port resources.

Cotecna’s CRMS is a significant innovation serving Customs Administrations by providing:

- Automated Approach
Consignments are assessed and risk levels designated automatically as part of the normal work process within the CRMS without the need for manual intervention.
- Focused Approach
Whereby specific and appropriate levels of intervention are assigned to each consignment on the basis of risk resulting in a more efficient and effective use of resources.
- Dynamic Approach
The CRMS takes into account the results of interventions (including physical inspection, examination and/or scanning) to update the database continuously, effectively enabling the system to respond to changing patterns of non-compliance.

Example: Cotecna combines CRMS with X-ray scanning for better control and facilitation of trade:

- In March 2000, through the Gateway Services Limited joint venture company with government, Cotecna was given the responsibility for developing and implementing a highly innovative destination inspection service aimed at facilitating legitimate trade through the introduction of combined risk management and x-ray scanning services.

- In 2001, revenue collection targets were exceeded by 20% following the introduction of the CRMS. This pioneering investment by Cotecna, is also effectively delivering better port logistics, significant gains in Customs operations, technology transfer and encouragement of foreign direct investment.

- In three years, COTECNA has implemented for not less than 7 countries Risk Management Systems, in the frame of Customs modernization programme. These Systems apply to specific Customs operational areas ranging from: Pre-Shipment Inspection, Destination Inspection (combined with scanners) and Special Regime Management.

X-Ray Scanning Services

Cotecna uses X-ray scanning technology to verify the content of containers. Container scanning is an efficient tool to achieve the following objectives :

> Increase security;
> Fight against contraband;
> Protection of local industry;
> Enhance customs revenues;

> Facilitate trade for importers, exporters and ports through the use of "non-intrusive" verification of shipments via the scanner;
> Manage the smooth flow of containers, resulting in less port congestion;
> Combined with state-of-the-art risk management and price analysis tools, container scanning can improve cost efficiency for customs.

Cotecna acts as an investor/operator and provides the following services:

Conceiving and developing scanner projects which take into account:
- Objectives of the client,
- Stakeholder consensus and procedures,
- Local and financial constraints.

> Technical analysis and selection of appropriate hardware taking into account operational and financial considerations;
> Establishing the technical and financial aspects of the project;
> Participating as an investor;
> Management of the project including operation of the scanner, maintenance, training and capacity building;
> IT systems that enhance and facilitate the use of scanning technology, for example.

Cotecna is currently the only private company which owns and operates 5 scanners for sea containers.

> Cotecna started its first scanning operation, combined with a Computerized Risk Management System in June 2000 in the port of Tema, Ghana, through a joint venture company, Gateway Services Limited (GSL). From June 2000 to January 2001, GSL operated a mobile 2,5MeV scanner and from January 2001 GSL has been operating a fixed 5MeV scanner, a world first, in the Port of Tema.

> Since January 2002 Cotecna has been operating a 2.5 MeV mobile scanner in the port of Dakar, Senegal, and has been awarded a new contract for 2 HCV 3.8 MeV Mobile scanner due to start Q4 2003.

> In June 2003, Lomé was the third port in west Africa to be equipped by Cotecna with a container scanner and it was the first mobile scanner with an energy of 3.8 MeV allowing penetration through 280 mm of steel.

> In partnership with ICSSI, Cotecna signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense of the Dominican Republic in 2003. The first step was to install 2 low energy Silhouette-scans 140 MeV in the ports of East and West Haina. A further 2-3 high energy 3.8 MeV mobile scanners are due to be installed before end 2003.

> Cotecna has recently been awarded a 10 year USD 70 million contract by the Federal Government of Nigeria to finance, install and operate 14 X-Ray scanners in Nigerian seaports, airports and land borders. The contract includes related services such as CRMS, ValueQuest & Destination Inspection.

SAFE TRADE: COSEC (Cotecna Security)

Cotecna is involved in the new area of Security . The Division, within Cotecna, in charge of these new services is COSEC (Cotecna Security). We are currently involved either as a partner, or as a subcontractor, in at least 6 of the total of 18 Department of Homeland Security container tests. This large U.S. department is running this anti-terror programme, through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Each of these 18 tradelanes is set up to test the security on a 50-150 container movement from one specific foreign shipper/location, to a consignee/buyer within the U.S.


Operation Safe Commerce (OSC) provides a test bed for new security techniques to increase the security of container shipments, from the point of origin to the point of destination. The objective is to enhance security for the movement of cargo through the supply chain. The goal of OSC is to explore business processes and technologies that protect commercial shipments from threat of terrorist attack and illegal importation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, while minimizing the economic impact upon the transportation system. Those security techniques that will prove successful under the OSC programme will then be recommended for implementation throughout the maritime commerce industry.


Though the scope of works vary from trade lane to trade lane, the scope of works for Cotecna will be that of a Trusted Agent and will most probably consist in:

1. In the consolidation warehouse(s) or at the exporter’s premises,
1.1. Upon arrival inspect container ensure empty, clean, good condition, not modified in such a way that harmful goods could be hidden in walls, deck, other parts,
1.2. Visual inspection and scanning of the container using handheld detectors, for the detection of radiation and explosives / chemicals. Before stuffing, visual inspection of the cargo check packing/markings against packing list . Scan the cargo using radiation /chemical/explosive detectors. Scanning will be done randomly as per statistical models used in the industry for random inspections.
1.3. Witness stuffing of cargo and ensure correct pallets stuffed according to packing list.
1.4. Witness closing of the container; affix seal on closed door.
1.5. take a set of 5 pictures of the container as follows:
1.5.1. empty container
1.5.2. 50%
1.5.3. 100%
1.5.4. closed container evidencing container number
1.5.5. Seal affixed to the container.
1.6. Input essential data into a data system, including container number, seal number, details of cargo. Details to be agreed upon prior to the start of the test in conjunction with SNL, NVOCC, etc.
2. Point of discharge (at the warehouses..)
2.1. Check integrity of seal
2.2. take picture of seal
2.3. report on findings


> COTRACK® is a powerful compliance monitoring solution, developed by COTECNA for tracking and reporting on the journeys of a variety of vehicles including trucks and ships. This proven solution incorporates all the necessary features for tracking an individual vehicle up to a fleet consisting of hundreds. COTRACK’s® three primary functions are the collection of trip data, the communication of this data and the analysis and reporting of key information supporting decision-making.

> COTRACK® has three components that enable it to function. The first of these is the “Mobile Unit” installed in the vehicle, which in turn communicates with the Monitoring Station. The data is received at the Monitoring Station through communication-enabled software compatible with most communication modes (Satellite, GSM, Radio, etc.). The raw data is subsequently processed by COTRACK® where pre-established decision-making criteria are established to control the information reporting. This flexible solution means that COTRACK® can be adjusted so that Reporting aspects are in line with the clients’ compliance monitoring requirements.

Example: COTRACK® as a transit trade compliance tracking solution:

> COTRACK® is currently applied to monitor the compliance of in-land transit activities and operators to the national laws. This COTRACK® application tracks and reports on the activities and behavior of the transit vehicles from the point of departure to the destination. COTRACK® issues an official report consisting of three documents as follows:

1. The Transit Risk Advisory (TRA) first provides information, such as trip data, vehicle ID, goods in transit, route etc. Furthermore, the TRA provides analysis of the vehicle’s journey, based on the information contained in the Statistic Report. Any unusual activity or event will be highlighted in the TRA. The TRA provides four recommendations to be taken by Customs: Full Control, Partial Controls, No Controls or Investigation.

2. The Statistic Report provides considerably more insight of a vehicle’s journey, based on the various pre-established parameters, such as the enforcement of a pre-determined route (geo-fencing). Among other possible reporting information is the ability to separate the vehicle’s route into geographic sectors. Meanwhile, the second section, details the activity of the vehicle such as position, stops, time, duration and engine status on/off. The Alarms section of the Statistic Report provides detailed data on unauthorized activities.

3. Finally, produces a transit Route Map. This high-resolution map provides a visible geographical context of the route that the vehicle has followed. Any deviations or suspect behaviour are clearly illustrated on the map.

Security Features

In order to ensure the integrity of the information provided by COTRACK®, a number of security features are incorporated into the system. The first security level is implemented by a Login-password policy and a tracing of each database modification, which not only prevents un-authorized users but also acts as an information source on the Operator’s use of the system. However, the principal security measure is the non-tampering provision, this ensures that after being issued, reports can not be altered under any circumstances, which will guarantee reproducing reports at any time.

Cotecna's vehicle tracking services

To date, COTRACK® has been applied to vehicle tracking but the tracking capabilities are limitless, including foreseen future use in the management of fishery resources and security sectors to name but a few.


> Cotecna's Vehicle Inspection Service is designed to meet Governments' need to assess conformity of national fleets of vehicles with the specific requirements of national standards in order to prevent unsafe vehicles from circulating in the country.
> All checks, examinations and tests conducted on the vehicles are intended to confirm or verify full compliance with the standards applicable in the country where the inspection is performed.
> Current Vehicle Inspections Services are carried out by Cotecna's accredited inspectors in state-of-the-art facilities and equipped with modern technology (automated test lanes).

Services offered by Cotecna:

Cotecna's services are delivered through a BOOT (build, own, operate, transfer) scheme, which includes the following:
> Inspection: Physical inspection of the vehicle and verification of installations, fittings and devices with assistance of appropriate testing equipment; operations will lead to a detailed Inspection Findings Report.
> Certification (Homologation): This includes the creation of a Key Reference for each model/type of vehicle and the issuing of an individual Certificate of Conformity.
> Advanced IT-system: With access for the relevant national authorities to ensure accurate record keeping of inspection results and to secure issuance of Conformity Certificates.


> VALUEQUEST® is an automated system designed for Governments and Customs Administrations and is intended to support the implementation of the WTO Agreement on Customs Valuation (ACV). It aims to protect public revenue and promote trade facilitation through a transparent, impartial and systematic process applied to the valuation of goods. VALUEQUEST® draws on COTECNA's network of Valuation Centres worldwide linked by advanced systems and communications technology, providing swift and secure access to price information.

ValueQuest provides the following benefits:

1. Price Testing enables Customs to accurately verify the veracity of declared values through the systematic application of ACV rules. VALUEQUEST® capitalizes on COTECNA's Price Data Warehouse containing over 2.5 million live price records with details on HS Code, origin, dates, commercial terms and quality indicators, and enables Customs to determine whether there is Reason to Doubt declared values of products.

2. Through Value Opinion & Advice, VALUEQUEST® provides Customs a systematic and efficient means of applying Valuation methods prescribed under ACV Articles 2 and 3. It makes available transaction values for similar and identical goods for comparison against each importation, as well as relevant information to ensure correct and verifiable adjustment under the ACV. Value Advice provides Customs with a non-binding best estimate value for each importation based on deductive, computed or fallback methods in instances where Articles 2 or 3 cannot be applied. Value Advice is highly useful in the assessment of bonds and guarantees for conditional release of goods.

3.Through VALUEQUEST® Dispute Resolution Mechanism, information and expertise from COTECNA's worldwide network of Valuation Centres or established resident VQ-Site Teams examine, verify, audit and report on evidence presented in support of Customs Valuation.

4. VALUEQUEST® provides powerful reports Importer, Exporter and Commodity Profiles, to alert Customs to changing patterns of trade and compliance.


> COTECNA installs dedicated client servers at Customs Administrations allowing its Valuation staff fast and reliable connections to VALUEQUEST® databases, containing price information on products worldwide. VALUEQUEST® incorporates professional training and transfer of know-how to Customs. Training covers technical implementation and support as well as legal methods and interpretations of price information to optimize revenue protection.

Security Features:

> VALUEQUEST® relies on COTECNA's highly advanced security systems, procedures and practices to protect confidential information provided by Customs or utilized during the VQ process that are fully compliant with WTO guidelines on the confidentiality of information.
> To ensure the integrity of information, VALUEQUEST® incorporates a number of security features, ranging from a strict and secure Login password policy and a tracking of each query in the system to more stringent controls to prevent unauthorized access to information.


> VALUEQUEST® provides a flexible approach that enables Customs to adhere to WTO valuation methods, while simultaneously building capacity for Customs Administrations. VALUEQUEST® is available under various customized business arrangements to meet the specific needs of our clients.

roupe de recherche et d'information sur la paix et la sécurité
70 Rue de la Consolation, B-1030 Bruxelles
Tél.: +32.2.241 84 20 - Fax : +32.2.245 19 33
Internet : - Courriel : 

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