The tit-for-tat trade spat between the US and China has ramped up another step after the White House instructed the US Trade Representative to consider an additional $100bn in tariffs against China.

The move yesterday (5 April) comes on top of the $50bn in tariffs already proposed on a wide-range of Chinese manufactured goods this week – and is in response to the possible retaliatory duties announced by China in return.

"In light of China's unfair retaliation, I have instructed the USTR to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate under section 301 and, if so, to identify the products upon which to impose such tariffs," Trump said in a statement issued by the White House.

The President has the authority to add tariffs without approval or legislation from Congress.

The concern is that while apparel and footwear have so far escaped the proposed new tariffs on products imported from China, they would possibly be back in contention for the next wave of tariff increases.

"This is what a trade war looks like, and what we have warned against from the start," says Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation (NRF)."We are on a dangerous downward spiral and American families will be on the losing end."

He adds: "These tit-for-tat trade actions could spell disaster for the US economy and make it harder for Americans across the country to afford everyday products and basic necessities.

"It is inevitable that China will respond with more retaliatory actions that cause even further harm to American farmers, businesses and consumers. We urge the administration to change course and stop playing a game of chicken with the nation's economy."

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) agrees that "Adding more tariffs would be both stunning and ill-informed.

"The first tariffs targeting $50bn in goods was sold as placing a minimal burden on American families. There is no chance adding additional tariffs on another $100bn in trade can prevent families from seeing cost increases on everyday goods, as well as job losses starting with agriculture and moving across much of our economy.

"It also means that footwear is back in contention for tariff increases, unless the President is bluffing to get the Chinese to the negotiating table ... this is a risky game in our opinion. If we are added to any new lists, shoe prices will go up."

Likewise, Rick Helfenbein president and CEO at the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), warns: "It is time to wake up – we are being marched into a trade war and the losers will be American workers, American consumers, and the American economy.

He adds the decision to consider an additional $100bn is not an 'appropriate' response. "Tariffs are hidden, regressive taxes paid for by hardworking American families and result in lost American jobs, higher prices, and damage to the American economy, plain and simple.

"Additional tariffs only add fuel to the fire and create an environment of one-upmanship that will not solve the problem we are trying to fix. We cannot treat this like a school yard fight. This is a fight where everyone loses."

China this week said it would impose an additional 25% tariff on 106 products imported from the US in retaliation for the Trump administration's proposal to raise tariffs on 1,300 Chinese goods by the same amount.

Neither the US nor China has yet specified a date on which the tariffs might take effect, although China's Ministry of Commerce has indicated Beijing would not impose duties unless the US did so first.

The goods selected by Beijing, which account for around $50bn worth of imports from the US, appear targeted at politically sensitive industries in an effort to bring pressure on the White House not to go ahead with its planned tariffs – and include major crops such as cotton.

US cotton is a key input for the Chinese clothing industry. For the current 2017 crop year, China has been the US's second largest export market, buying 2.5m bales

Manufactured goods on the list include knitting machines and finishing equipment.

US apparel sector concern over China cotton duties

Relief as China apparel and footwear avoid Trump tariff