Romania surprises with 3.5% growth in 2013: official data

Romania's economy grew by 3.5 percent in 2013, beating expectations and marking recovery by a component of emerging Europe, official data showed on Friday.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had forecast a 2.8-percent growth for 2013.

Strong agricultural output in a country that was once called Europe's granary, and exports were the main drivers of growth last year, analysts said.

Industrial output surged by 7.1 percent.

Romania became a member of the European Union in 2007 but has not yet joined the eurozone.

After years of recession in 2009 and 2010, followed by sluggish growth in 2011 and 2012, 2013 was "the year of recovery for Romania ... with an expansion estimated to have outpaced all other countries in the European Union except for Latvia and Lithuania", the IMF said earlier this month.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, the economy grew by 1.7 percent compared to the third quarter, the latest data showed.

Romania's growth is expected to stand at 2.2 percent in 2014, lower than in 2013 but higher than the European Union average.