South Korea’s export hit a record high in 2021 due to global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, a government report showed on Saturday. Export, which takes up about half of the export-driven economy, surged 25.8 percent over the year to reach a fresh yearly high of 644.54 billion US dollars in 2021, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. It topped the previous record high of 604.9 billion dollars in 2018, marking the fastest increase since 2010. Import soared 31.5 percent to hit a record high of 615.05 billion dollars last year, sending the trade surplus to 29.49 billion dollars. The trade balance stayed in black for 13 straight years. All of the country’s 15 major export items recorded a double-digit expansion in 2021. Semiconductor export advanced 29 percent to 127.98 billion dollars, and those for petrochemicals and oil products soared more than 50 percent to 55.08 billion dollars and 38.15 billion dollars each. Global demand for locally-made chips got steeper as the pandemic boosted a so-called contact-less economy, while the shipment of oil-relevant products gained last year on expensive crude oil. General machinery export added 10.8 percent to 53.08 billion dollars, and automotive export advanced 24.2 percent to 46.47 billion dollars. Export for steel, mobile devices, display panels, auto parts and computers increased in double figures to 36.38 billion dollars, 16.2 billion dollars, 21.39 billion dollars, 22.78 billion dollars, and 16.82 billion dollars respectively. Shipment to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, went up 22.9 percent from a year earlier to 162.94 billion dollars in 2021, and export to Southeast Asian nations picked up 22.3 percent to 108.88 billion dollars. Export to the United States and the European Union increased in double digits to 95.9 billion dollars and 63.6 billion dollars each, and those to Japan, Latin American countries and India rose to 30.07 billion dollars, 25.82 billion dollars and 15.61 billion dollars respectively.