TEXTILE and clothing manufacturers, who face a German ecological import ban in less than six months, may receive help from a new service of the Institute of Textiles & Clothing at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. On October 1, the institute launched the Voluntary Registration Scheme for Harmless Dyestuffs, assistant professor Szeto Yaushan told the Hong Kong Exporters' Association yesterday. Available through the WorldWide Web, the Voluntary Registration Scheme was an electronic bulletin board which contained a list of dyestuff suppliers who guaranteed their products were free of cancer-causing substances, Mr Szeto said. From March 31, 1996, Germany has said it would prohibit the import of textiles and clothing containing any AZO colours which could break down into cancer-causing agents. AZO colours were commonly used, accounting for more than 65 per cent of the colours used in textile printing and dyeing, though only a small number of them were produced from cancer causing substances. Germany was the first country to adopt such a regulation and it was potentially devastating to Hong Kong exporters because Germany was one of their largest markets. Textile and garment manufacturers would gain assurance of being in compliance with the German regulation by purchasing from suppliers listed through the Voluntary Registration Scheme, Mr Szeto said. Kenneth Wong, who represented the dyeing and finishing industry at the meeting, said the industry had no choice but to comply with the new regulation, and the Voluntary Registration Scheme was the best way to do so.