Gross domestic product rose 5.1% from a year earlier, the General Statistics Office said in Hanoi Wednesday. The median estimate of eight economists in a Bloomberg survey was 6.25%.

The GDP expanded 6.68% in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to previously reported data.

Vietnam has outperformed most of its Southeast Asian peers as export growth remained resilient despite a slump in global trade that hit countries like Thailand and Malaysia.

The government is increasing spending on infrastructure to retain its role as a top investment destination in Southeast Asia as others like the Philippines catches up.

The World Bank forecasts Vietnam’s economy will expand more than 6% this year and next, among the fastest in the world. Global risks are mounting though, with Vietnam among the countries in Asia most vulnerable to a rise in trade protectionism in the US.

"Exports would remain the key drivers of growth," Irvin Seah, a senior economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd, said before the data. "Global electronics are currently going through an upswing and that would be a significant boost to the manufacturing sector in Vietnam. Greater trade protectionism is a concern though I don’t think it will materialise in the near term."

Bloomberg News - March 29, 2017