South Korean exports of industrial parts and materials hit a new high in the first three quarters of this year due to solid demand for locally-made petrochemical products and auto parts, a government report showed Thursday. Overseas shipments of industrial parts and materials reached a record high of 192.1 billion U.S. dollars during the January- September period, up 14.6 percent from the same period of last year, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in a statement. Exports of information technology (IT)-related parts such as chips and flat panels contracted amid concerns over the European debt crisis, but brisk demand for auto parts and petrochemical products contributed to the record high of exports over the cited period, according to the ministry. Imports of industrial components and materials grew 15.5 percent on-year to reach a record high of 128 billion dollars for the first nine months of this year due to rising demand for auto parts caused by solid growth in the nation\'s auto sector, the ministry said. The country\'s trade surplus for industrial parts and materials came in at a new record of 64.1 billion dollars in the first three quarters, up 7.3 billion dollars from the same period of last year. The ministry estimated the surplus in the sector could top 80 billion dollars in 2011 if the growth trend continues. By country, exports to Japan grew 30.5 percent on-year to 12.9 billion dollars during the January-September period, while imports from the neighboring country inched up 6.5 percent on-year to 30 billion dollars. The slowed import growth reduced the South Korea\' s chronic trade deficit with Japan by 1.18 billion dollars over the cited period. Shipments to China increased 8.7 percent on-year to reach 66.4 billion dollars for the first nine months of this year, with exports to the United States and Europe growing by 10.9 percent and 3.7 percent respectively.