China Closes Borders to Foreign Travelers

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China National Immigration Administration Announcement on the Temporary Suspension of Entry by Foreign Nationals Holding Valid Chinese Visas or Residence Permits

March 26, 2020

In view of the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world, China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits still valid to the time of this announcement, effective from 0 a.m., 28 march 2020. Entry by foreign nationals with APEC Business Travel Cards will be suspended as well. Policies including port visas, 24/72/144-hour visa-free transit policy, Hainan 30-day visa-free policy, 15-day visa-free policy specified for foreign cruise-group-tour through Shanghai Port, Guangdong 144-hour visa-free policy specified for foreign tour groups from Hong Kong or Macao SAR, and Guangxi 15-day visa-free policy specified for foreign tour groups of ASEAN countries will also be temporarily suspended. Entry with diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas will not be affected. Foreign nationals coming to China for necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs may apply for visas at Chinese embassies or consulates. Entry by foreign nationals with visas issued after this announcement will not be affected.

The suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries. China will stay in close touch with all sides and properly handle personnel exchanges with the rest of the world under the special circumstances. The above-mentioned measures will be calibrated in light of the evolving situation and announced accordingly.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China

National Immigration Administration

U.S. Dept of Commerce Rules that Wooden Cabinets & Vanities Injure U.S. Industry

To our valued clients, business partners, families, and friends:

In these tumultuous times, it’s even more important to remain vigilant about industry updates in the midst of the global pandemic. Today, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) determined that the U.S. industry is injured as a result of wooden cabinets and vanities imported from China that the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) has determined are subsidized and then sold in the U.S. at less than market value.

The Commission’s public report Wooden Cabinets and Vanities from China (Inv. Nos. 701-TA-620 and 731-TA-1445 (Final), USITC Publication 5042, April 2020) will contain the views of the Commission and information developed during the investigations.

The report will be available by April 27, 2020; when available, it may be accessed on the USITC website at:

As a result, Commerce will issue antidumping and countervailing duty orders on imports of these products in China.

These findings have the potential to have tremendous repercussions on our industry, and we will be closely monitoring the situation to provide you with relevant information you need to stay informed. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact us for any reason. We’re in this together.


Washington, DC 20436


Wooden Cabinets and Vanities from China
Investigation Nos. 701-TA-620 and 731-TA-1445 (Final)

Product Description:  Wooden cabinets and vanities (“WCVs”) are wood‐constructed products used for permanently installed cabinetry that are usually found in the kitchen (in the case of cabinets) or the bathroom (in the case of vanities). WCVs have physical characteristics applicable to the intended use for storage and easy access of various household items. WCVs may be sold in a fully assembled form, where the product is ready for installation, or in a “flat pack” or “ready to assemble” (“RTA”) form, which contains most or all of the items required to assemble a cabinet or vanity into its completed form. WCVs are manufactured wholly or in part from wood products, including natural wood and engineered wood products. In addition to the wood components, these products may contain certain quantities of non‐wood material such as glass, vinyl, plastics, and metal.

Status of Proceedings:

  1. Type of investigation:  Final phase antidumping duty and countervailing duty investigations.
  2. Petitioners:  American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance, Reston, VA.
  3. USITC Institution Date:  Wednesday, March 6, 2019.
  4. USITC Hearing Date:  Thursday, February 20, 2020.
  5. USITC Vote Date:  Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
  6. USITC Notification to Commerce Date:  Monday, April 6, 2020.

U.S. Industry in 2018:

  1. Number of U.S. producers:  49.
  2. Location of producers’ plants:  Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
  3. Production and related workers:  35,459.
  4. U.S. producers’ U.S. shipments:  $7.2 billion.
  5. Apparent U.S. consumption:  1
  6. Ratio of subject imports to apparent U.S. consumption:  1

U.S. Imports in 2018:

  1. Subject imports:  [1]
  2. Nonsubject imports:  1
  3. Leading import sources:  China.

Oregon Issues “Shelter In Place Order”

To our valued clients, business partners, families, and friends:
As with many states across the U.S., Governor Kate Brown announced yesterday that Oregon will implement an enforceable “Stay-At-Home” order, taking effect immediately.
Given Benchmark’s roles a Critical Infrastructure Workforce (which includes businesses that support the concrete, steel, and wood products industries), Benchmark’s offices and laboratory in Eugene will remain open. In preparation of this, Benchmark has proactively taken steps to assure compliance with the governor’s orders. These actions include, but are not limited to:
  1. Continuing to enable all eligible employees to work remotely where it is possible to do so. Our staff are readily available to support our clients and business partners however we can. Please don’t hesitate to contact us by phone or email if you have a question or need assistance.

  2. Until further notice, the Benchmark laboratory will be staffed by essential management and laboratory personnel only. At this time, we do not anticipate any delays to the processing of laboratory projects. Please don’t hesitate to contact Chris Battin or Aaron Malsch regarding the status of your test project or to submit new projects as needed.

  3. The Benchmark laboratory has implemented additional social distancing and sanitation protocols for essential management and laboratory personnel. These protocols are designed not only to assure compliance to the Governor’s orders for essential businesses, but also to protect the health and safety of our employees and their families.

  4. To assure continuity of services, Benchmark will continue to leverage approved remote assessment technologies in compliance with applicable accreditation and government guidelines.


Read Governor Brown’s Executive Order Here.

While the unprecedented actions that federal, state, and local authorities have needed to take to slow the spread of COVID-19 are necessary, it is nevertheless difficult for all us to feel and see the impact it is having on our communities, families, and friends. We continue to offer our prayers and thoughts of support to each of you.
We are grateful that so many companies believe we are an essential business partner; allowing us to continue to serve each of you when you need it most. We thank you for your confidence and look forward to continuing to provide you with the services and solutions you have come to expect. Rest assured; when you need us we will be on the other end of the phone, at the lab, and all across the globe.  Thank you.

California Orders Residents To Stay Home

Today, California State Public Health Officer & Director of the California Department of Health ordered all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence, except as needed to maintain continuity of operation of the federal critical infrastructure sectors.
This goes into effect on Thursday, March 19, 2020. The order is in place until further notice.
Essential services will remain open such as:
  1. Gas stations
  2. Pharmacies
  3. Food: Grocery stores, farmer’s markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out, delivery restaurants
  4. Banks, laundromats/laundry services
Essential state and local government functions will also remain open, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.
Establishments that are closed include:
  1. Dine-in restaurants
  2. Bars and nightclubs
  3. Entertainment venues
  4. Gyms and fitness studios
  5. Public events and gatherings
  6. Convention Centers
This is in effect throughout the State of California.
The full order can be read here.

U.S. Department of State: Global Health Advisory, 19 March 2020 – Level 4: DO NOT TRAVEL

The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.  In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.  U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel.  Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice.  Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips.  If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.

On March 14, the Department of State authorized the departure of U.S. personnel and family members from any diplomatic or consular post in the world who have determined they are at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19 or who have requested departure based on a commensurate justification.  These departures may limit the ability of U.S. Embassies and consulates to provide services to U.S. citizens.

For the latest information regarding COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website.

You are encouraged to visit to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security. Please also visit the website of the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate to see information on entry restrictions, foreign quarantine policies, and urgent health information provided by local governments.

Travelers are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. The Department uses these Alerts to convey information about terrorist threats, security incidents, planned demonstrations, natural disasters, etc. In an emergency, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate or call the following numbers: 1(888) 407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1 (202) 501-4444 from other countries or jurisdictions.

If you decide to travel abroad or are already outside the United States:

COVID-19 Guidance / Updates from EPA

With the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) now impacting a number of countries worldwide, the international response has posed increasing challenges to effectively manage the global supply chain. Among other things, several countries have enacted, or are considering to enact, various international and regional travel bans and restrictions which have the effect of further constraining global trade. Such restrictions have already been implemented in a number of Southeast Asian countries, and the U.S. has implemented travel restrictions for specific foreign nationals.
In light of the challenges posed by this situation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to add guidance for Third-Party Certifiers (TPCs) regarding the requirements for conducting routine surveillance audits at production facilities certified pursuant to TSCA Title VI:

13. In the event of unsafe conditions in the geographic areas that would prevent a third-party certifier (TPC) from traveling in-person to that area, how can a TPC work with one of its TSCA Title VI-certified composite wood product manufacturing panel producers to conduct quarterly inspections (including sampling collections of composite wood products) to ensure TSCA Title VI compliance until the unsafe conditions are no longer present?

In the event of unsafe conditions (e.g., natural disasters, outbreaks, political unrest, epidemics, and pandemics) in the area of a composite wood product manufacturing panel producer, in order to conduct the required quarterly inspections and sample collections, the TPC could conduct a remote quarterly inspection via teleconference to satisfy the requirements of 40 CFR 770.7(c)(4)(i)(F), and work with the panel producer quality control manager at that time to select, package, sign, and ship the TPC panels/samples for the quarterly test according to 40 CFR 770.20(c). TPCs and panel producers should also remain in close communication with each to ensure any changes or developments that might affect the panel producer or product type certification are managed according to the TSCA Title VI regulations. The panel producer and TPC should also document each unsafe conditions occurrence for auditing purposes, and the TPC should notify EPA through its TSCA Title VI accrediting body/third-party certifier general mailbox ( when this remote method of quarterly inspection is being used. The standard practice for a TPC providing certification services for composite wood panel producers remains that a TPC conducts in-person quarterly inspections and sample collection, packaging, signature, and shipping for quality control testing.

The above FAQ can be found at:

EPA’s guidance provides an interim solution to meet the challenges posed by the international response to the COVID-19 outbreak and further aligns the agency’s guidance to that of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on these types of matters. However, the application of the guidance provided by this FAQ is to be used only in extraordinary circumstances, and should not be viewed as a means to bypass normal quarterly audit and testing requirements. Benchmark continues to manage its global staff to meet client needs and regulatory requirements, and we will only utilize the above mechanism as a last resort. We remain in close contact with EPA, our clients, and other regulatory agencies as needed, and we will communicate further information as needed.
Please contact us if you have any questions.

AD/CVD Petition Filed: May Impact Imports on Wood Moldings and Millwork Products from Brazil and China

As you know, we are committed to keeping you informed about important news and announcements. As such, we want to make you aware of an antidumping /countervailing duties (AD/CVD) petition filed January 8, 2020, by U.S. producers. The petition addresses imports from Brazil and China which can result in AD/CVD duties on merchandise identified in the scope of the petition imported from those countries to the U.S.
The petition is seeking AD/CVD to be placed on wood moldings and millwork products from Brazil and China (the full scope of merchandise affected can be found in the petition, listed below). As a result, the U.S. International Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Commerce will begin an investigation to determine if the industry in the U.S. is affected, and whether or not Brazilian and Chinese imports are unfairly traded – meaning, priced below normal market value or unfairly subsidized.
The full description of the products from Brazil and China covered by the petition is found in pages 4-6 of Part 1.
Read the entire petition here:

U.S. Treasury Sanctions Cambodians With Alleged Connections to Illegal Logging

Last Monday, a press release from the U.S. Department of the Treasury stated, “Today, on International Anti-Corruption Day, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is targeting corrupt actors and their networks across numerous countries in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.  Today’s action, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption.”

According to an article posted in The Phnom Penh Post, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation [of Cambodia] expressed strong dismay on Monday over the designation of Cambodian tycoon Oknha Try Pheap and General Kun Kim under the US’ Global Magnitsky Act.”

The article continues, “Pheap has used his vast network inside Cambodia to build a large-scale illegal logging consortium that relies on the collusion of Cambodian officials, to include purchasing protection from the government, including military protection, for the movement of his illegal products,” the U.S. Treasury Department said.

Mech Dara, the author of the article, claims the U.S. Treasury Department asserts that “Pheap had used the Cambodian Military to enable his timber trafficking activities and sell to buyers in Vietnam, China, Europe, and Russia.  The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated 11 Cambodia-registered entities it said are owned or controlled by Pheap”.

Regarding Kim the article states, “The U.S. Treasury Department said he was instrumental in developing projects in Koh Kong province and had reaped significant financial benefits from his close relationship with a Chinese state-owned entity.  Kim had used Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAP) soldiers to ‘intimidate, demolish, and clear-out land sought by the PRC-owned entity’, it said, referring to the official acronym for China.”

The full article can be read here –

From the U.S. Department of the Treasury Press Release (


Try Pheap (Pheap) is designated for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official responsible for or complicit in, or directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.  The United States prioritizes anticorruption efforts as a key part of its vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, recognizing good governance as integral to U.S. foreign policy and national security interests and in line with U.S. values.

Pheap has used his vast network inside Cambodia to build a large scale illegal logging consortium that relies on the collusion of Cambodian officials, to include purchasing protection from the government, including military protection, for the movement of his illegal products.  For example, Pheap used the Cambodian military to enable his timber trafficking activities and sell to buyers in Vietnam, China, Europe, and Russia.  The support of these officials makes it difficult for local authorities to take lawful action against Pheap, as in one example, Cambodian National Park officials were paid by Pheap to keep his operations secret from the international community.

In addition to the designation of Pheap, OFAC is designating 11 Cambodia-registered entities that are owned or controlled by Pheap:  Try Pheap Group Co., Ltd.; M.D.S. Import Export Co., Ltd.; Try Pheap Dry Port Co., Ltd.; Try Pheap Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd.; Try Pheap Grand Royal Co., Ltd.; Try Pheap Import Export Co., Ltd.; Papa Petroleum Co., Ltd.; Try Pheap Property Co., Ltd.; Try Pheap Travel & Tours Co., Ltd.; M D S Thmorda S E Z Co., Ltd.; and Try Pheap Oyadav S E Z Co., Ltd.


Kun Kim (Kim) is designated for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

Kim was a senior General in the RCAF and was instrumental in a development in Koh Kong province and had reaped significant financial benefit from his relationships with a People’s Republic of China (PRC) state-owned entity.  Kim used RCAF soldiers to intimidate, demolish, and clear-out land sought by the PRC-owned entity.  Kun Kim was replaced as RCAF Chief of Staff because Kim had not shared profits from his unlawful businesses with senior Cambodian government officials.

Cambodian elites like Kim use their familial networks to create shadow structures to shield ill-gotten assets. Such corruption undermines the ability to realize the vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific that we share with ASEAN and other Indo-Pacific partners.  In addition to Kim, OFAC designated three members of Kim’s family: King Chandy (Chandy), Kim Sophary (Sophary), and Kim Phara (Phara), for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Kim.  Five entities that are owned or controlled by these individuals were also designated today:

  • 7 Makara Phary Co., registered in Cambodia, and is owned or controlled by Sophary.
    • K D Rubber Plantation Co., Ltd. is registered in Cambodia, and is owned or controlled by Chandy.
    • Cambo Elite Security Force Co., Ltd. is registered in Cambodia, and is owned or controlled by Sophary.
    • Romdoul Capital Pawn Co., Ltd. and Romdoul Development Co., Ltd. are registered in Cambodia, and are owned or controlled by Phara.

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Benchmark offers a variety of compliance verification services to the consumer goods, furniture, cabinetry, and other industries who frequently market and sell their products on compliance program development to laboratory testing, supplier site assessments, and more, we ‘re here to help. If you currently manufacture, import, distribute, or sell your products on Amazon, or if you’re thinking of doing so, please Contact Us  or call +1 (541) 484-9212 to discuss how we can help!


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Breaking Announcement: Court Makes Announcement on EPA Rules

The Court finds the Delay Rule is beyond the scope of the EPA’s authority and is not in accordance with the Formaldehyde Act. The Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and DENIES the EPA’s cross-motion for summary judgment. Having found that the EPA has acted in excess of its statutory authority and therefore unlawfully under the APA, the Court vacates and sets aside the year-long extension to December 12, 2018 of the compliance deadlines set out by the EPA in the Delay Rule. See 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A); see also California Communities Against Toxics v. EPA, 688 F.3d 989, 992 (9th Cir. 2012) (per curiam).

At oral argument on these motions, the parties agreed that should the Court vacate the Delay Rule, the parties would meet and confer to address the timely implementation of the Court’s order. Accordingly, the Court STAYS this order vacating the Delay Rule until such time as the parties can address the timely and effective implementation of the compliance guidelines. The parties shall have until March 9, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. to provide the Court with a joint proposed submission or simultaneous briefing each not to exceed 15 pages to address the timing for lifting the stay and expeditious implementation of the Court’s order.