Vietnam economy expands by 5.66% in Q1 as exports boom By Reuters

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam’s gross domestic product in the first quarter grew 5.66% from a year earlier as exports rose, government data showed on Friday, despite higher shipping costs due to unrest on the Red Sea.

Growth in the January-March period of the economy was faster than the expansion of 3.41% in the same period last year, but slower than the growth of 6.72% in the fourth quarter. First quarter numbers are usually lower due to the holiday season.

The Southeast Asian brand, a regional manufacturing hub and retailer of mobile phones, electronics and clothing, is looking to boost its business after missing its growth target last year due to global energy shortages and temporary power outages. It has set a target of 6.0%-6.5% GDP this year.

The manufacturing and construction sector grew by 6.28%, while the labor sector grew by 6.12% in the quarter from last year, the General Statistics Office (GSO) reported.

Exports of goods from Vietnam increased significantly in the region, despite the disruption of shipments through the Red Sea due to the attack of the Houthis, which, according to government estimates, led to a 55%-73% increase in the cost of transporting goods from the country.

Imports in the sector grew 17% from the previous year to $93.06 billion, while exports rose 13.9% to $84.98 billion, resulting in an increase of $8.08 billion in trade.

Electronics shipments rose 30% from a year ago, while shipments of cell phones rose 10% and clothing 7.9%, according to GSO.

Industrial production in the quarter rose 21.7% from a year ago, the GSO said, adding that consumer prices in March rose 3.97% from a year earlier and retail sales in January-March rose 8.2%.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh last week assured foreign investors that their factories will not suffer from last year’s power shortages, as the country increases imports of coal.

Vietnam’s electricity output in the first quarter grew 11.4% from last year to 65.5 billion kWh, according to GSO.

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