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In its latest Trafficking in Persons report, the U.S. State Department downgraded Vietnam and Cambodia to its bottom tier and put Indonesia on a watchlist.   © Illustration by Hiroko Oshima
Asia Insight

Cambodia holds back Vietnam and Thailand in trafficking prevention

Porous borders, corruption preclude collective progress

FRANCESCA REGALADO, LIEN HOANG and SHOICHIRO TAGUCHI, Nikkei staff writers | Southeast Asia

BANGKOK/HO CHI MINH CITY/TOKYO -- Geography has helped Thailand and Vietnam compete for a large share of investment flowing out of China. But it has also thrown a wrench in their plans as trafficking persists along Southeast Asia's porous borders, especially in their shared neighbor Cambodia.

In its latest Trafficking in Persons report, the U.S. State Department downgraded Vietnam and Cambodia to its bottom tier and put Indonesia on a watchlist. Governments fearful of losing U.S. investment and economic aid are typically motivated to aim for the first or second tiers. At risk of falling into the third tier, Thailand spent the past year improving agency coordination and prosecuting officials complicit in human trafficking.

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