DAVAO, Philippines -- The Southeast Asian economy is recovering, posting the sharpest growth in a year and a half in the April-June quarter.
The real gross domestic product of five major countries in the region -- Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines -- expanded 4.6% from a year earlier, surpassing the 4.4% growth seen in the January-March quarter, according to an estimate by the Asian Development Bank. The figure was derived from a weighted average of the nations' growth rates.
China's economic slowdown had damped exports from Southeast Asia, keeping the region's economy at a standstill. But signs of recovery are cropping up as governments increase fiscal expenditures.
The Philippines and Indonesia are leading the way, with their April-June GDP growing 7% and 5.2%, respectively. Both economies are underpinned by consumer and government spending.
Indonesia's latest figure exceeded January-March's 4.9% and beat the market projection of 5%. Growth is not limited to the central island of Java, where the capital city of Jakarta is located. The island of Sulawesi, in central Indonesia, recorded 8.5% growth thanks to President Joko Widodo's push to boost infrastructure development in rural areas.
Thailand's economy, which had been suffering from political instability, grew 3.5% in the April-June quarter, marking a second consecutive quarter of improvement.
The export slump was offset by increased government spending on roads, railways and other infrastructure, according to the ADB.
Meanwhile, Malaysia's growth shrank for a fifth straight quarter, falling to 4% from January-March's 4.2%.