MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Stronger-than-expected export demand has improved growth prospects for Asia's developing economies, including China, the Asian Development Bank said Thursday.

The Manila, Philippines-based ADB upgraded its growth forecast for this year to 5.9 percent from an earlier forecast of 5.7 percent. It expects developing Asia to grow at a 5.8 percent pace in 2018, up from its earlier forecast of 5.7 percent.

China's economy, the world's second biggest, is forecast to grow at a 6.7 percent pace in 2017 and a 6.4 percent pace in 2018, the report said. The outlook is more optimistic than the bank's last forecast, made in April, for 6.5 percent and 6.2 percent growth in 2017 and 2018.

"Developing Asia is off to a good start this year with improved exports pushing growth prospects for the rest of 2017," said ADB's chief economist Yasuyuki Sawada. "Despite lingering uncertainties surrounding the strength of the global recovery, we feel that the region's economies are well-placed to face potential shocks to the outlook"

South Asia will remain the fastest growing sub-region, with regional expansions projected at 7 percent in 2017 and 7.2 percent next year, the report said.

Southeast Asia's growth is expected to remain at 4.8 percent in 2017 and 5 percent in 2018, with slower expansion in oil-dependent Brunei slightly offsetting faster growth in Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.

The Philippines is expected to grow at 6.5 percent this year and 6.7 percent next year, up from earlier forecasts for 6.4 percent growth in 2017 and 6.6 percent in 2018.