Rights groups have reacted angrily after the US took Malaysia off its human trafficking blacklist.
They said the decision was made so the US could quickly push through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation free-trade agreement which has an anti-trafficking clause.
The US denied this, saying Malaysia was “making significant efforts” to eliminate trafficking.
Meanwhile, Thailand has argued against its bottom-tier grade in the report.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal – which Malaysia is part of – needs final approval from US Congress.
President Barack Obama has been given the power to fast-track that approval, but not for countries given the worst rating in its annual Trafficking in Persons report.
Malaysia and Thailand were previously given the low rating – Tier 3 – but in this year’s report, Malaysia was moved into the less severe Tier 2, meaning it just has “room for improvement” on the issue.
Both countries have been criticised for not doing enough to combat trafficking particularly since the Rohingya migrants crisis saw thousands flee from Myanmar.
In May, mass graves suspected to contain the remains of migrants and abandoned human trafficking camps were found along the Malaysia-Thailand border.
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