Exports of South Korean cars and parts will hit a record high of $US43.3bn dollars this year due to improved quality and brand recognition, the government was reported to have said on Tuesday.

Exports of cars are expected to reach 2.7m units worth $33bn, up 11.9% from a year ago, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said in a report cited by Agence France Presse (AFP).

Exports of car parts will jump 21.2% to 10.3bn, it said. The ministry also reportedly predicted the trade surplus in the auto sector would rise to $37.3bn this year from $33.2bn a year ago.

The good performance was the result of efforts by South Korean carmakers to upgrade quality and build up competitiveness through increased production abroad, it said.

AFP said domestic car sales are predicted to stay at last year’s level of 1.15m units due to high fuel prices and sluggish demand.

Because of strikes, total domestic and overseas production is forecast to rise a modest 3.3% year-on-year to 3.82m units by the end of this year, short of the government’s earlier projection of fourm, the ministry said.

Of the total, overseas production is projected to top 1m units this year and 1.25m next year, AFP added.