The State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report has become increasingly sensitive for Southeast Asian governments, which face a cutoff of US assistance if they are found to be unresponsive in fighting trafficking.
The latest report elevated the Philippines, Singapore and Laos off the watchlist to so-called Tier 2, which means that the countries do not fully meet standards on human trafficking but are making efforts to do so.
Indonesia and Cambodia stayed at Tier 2, but Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam remained on the watchlist.
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The only Asian jurisdictions on Tier 1, meaning full compliance, were South Korea and Taiwan.
Releasing the report, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that as many 27 million men, women and children suffered from trafficking around the world for sexual exploitation or forced labor.
"Unfortunately, because of the ease of transportation and the global communications that can reach deep into villages with promises and pictures of what a bette