MANILA— The Philippines was Asia’s consistent top imports performer for the first half of 2016 as the country’s merchandise imports grew by 15.4 percent in June, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“This performance shows the strength of domestic demand in the country particularly in consumption and investment, as reflected by the latest real GDP growth of 7.0 percent in the second quarter,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, in June, the Philippines continued to outperform Viet Nam (1.9%), Malaysia (-1.0%), Indonesia (-6.8%), India (-7.3%), People’s Republic of China (-8.4%), and Thailand (-10.1).

Total payments rose to US$6.9 billion from US$5.9 billion in June 2015. For the first half of 2016, total imports rose by 17.7 percent to US$38.7 billion. Inward shipment of capital goods grew by 64.6 percent in June 2016, amounting to US$2.2 billion.

“This bodes well for the economy as it signals robust investment activity in industry and services moving forward,” the Cabinet official said.

Likewise, imports of consumer goods increased by 32.6 percent to US$1.2 billion in June 2016. Higher spending were observed for both durable goods (59.8%), particularly passenger cars and motorized cycles, and non-durable goods (6.9%) such as food and live animals.

“The trend of imports growth is expected to remain positive, albeit at a slightly lower pace due to a relatively weak outlook for electronics exports, which will affect the importation of electrical equipment. However, strong construction activity will continue to boost spending on durable equipment and capital goods,” said Pernia, who is also NEDA Director-General.

He added that it remains important to support growth enhancing measures that will sustain consumption and investment.

“These include continuous government spending on infrastructure, such as modernization of seaports and airports to ease the flow of goods into and within the country, and a comprehensive tax reform package to boost consumer spending and investments,” said Pernia.