LAHORE - The production cost of hand-knotted carpets is rising sharply in the world, which has resulted in stiff competition for Pakistan carpet manufacturers with regional rivals of China, India and Iran. This was stated by Chairman World Manual Carpet Association Akhtar Nazir Khan who stated this while addressing a press conference on Monday. He said federal government should announce a relief package for Pakistan's carpet industry in order to enhance exports considerably. Khan has been conferred Honorary Citizenship of Xining City that is the capital city of Quinghai province of China due to his services for the promotion of handmade carpets in the world. He said he was proud of getting honorary citizenship of China and this step would  help a lot in strengthening relations between the two countries. Akhtar Nazir Khan said Pakistani hand knotted carpets have gained significant popularity in the global market due to unique patterns, excellent designs and the ability of the exporters to innovate according to contemporary world's requirements. He added that price of Pakistani carpets are also very much competitive if compared with Iran, India or China. However, he regretted rising cost of production have emerged as a big challenge for carpet industry. He said government should also prepare special attention to US market which is one of the biggest carpet markets for Pakistan. "The share of handmade carpets is nominal if compared with the whole carpet market of USA" he said adding Pakistan should pay special attention to increase share of handmade carpet which is a piece of art. He regretted that many US end users pay higher price for machine made carpets than the hand knotted one. He said a campaign in this regard should be launched through media for which government should provide resources. Akhter Nazir Khan appealed the government to waive the condition of 35 per cent L/C margin on import of raw materials meant to be used on export items. Moreover he urged the authorities to ensure that the export industry gets the export refinance through central bank only. He said the commercial banks that have been instructed by the State Bank of Pakistan to provide 30 per cent of the export refinance are reluctant in this regard. He said local industry is globally competitive despite the fact that the Indian government provides 18 per cent rebate on its hand knotted carpet exports besides subsidizing freight. He said the freight of carpet exports now accounts for almost 25 per cent of its value. Regarding tuft carpets, he said these are erroneously treated as hand knotted carpets. This impression he added has to be negated through awareness campaign. Khan said India exports $400 million worth of Tuft carpets most of the times pass as hand knotted carpets. Khan hoped that the carpet exhibition being organized by Pakistan Carpet Manufacturers and Exporters Association in Lahore in the last week of August would attract 200 foreign buyers