President Donald Trump's tariff plan could undo some of the "positive steps" that businesses experienced from the GOP corporate tax cut and deregulation, Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Darren Woods told CNBC.
Exxon's long-range investment plans, such as last year's announcement to spend $20 billion through 2022 to expand chemical and oil refining plants along the Gulf Coast, were "facilitated or enhanced by the deregulation and the lowering of the tax rate," Woods said Wednesday in an interview after the oil giant's analyst day in New York.
But the president's plan to impose import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum "takes us back in the opposite direction," said Woods, who became chief executive in January 2017 after his predecessor Rex Tillerson left to become Trump's secretary of State.
A week ago, Trump unveiled his intention to impose the tariffs, which are set to be implemented this week. Republicans have been imploring the president not to go through with them.
In a last ditch effort to change Trump's mind, 107 Republican members of Congress signed a letter "urging" him to scale back the tariffs and focus his attention on the real unfair trade culprit, China.
The White House has evolved its position somewhat, signally possible exemptions for Canada and Mexico. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday told reporters that "carve outs" would be made on "case by case" and "country by country" bases. Trump's announcement last week had seemed to provide little daylight for exemptions.
Asked whether the headwinds from the tariffs would change Exxon's investment plans, Woods said, "At this point I don't see us doing that."