All Grants

Trade Policy Research

Trade Policy Research

Free trade promotes economic growth and respects the freedom of people to cooperate across borders. Widespread and enduring progress requires the voluntary exchange of goods, ideas, and services. Open and competitive markets give people access to the best possible opportunities and generate more prosperity for the United States than protectionism. This vision requires reassessing trade barriers — both tariffs and non-tariff barriers — that cannot be legitimately justified as vital to U.S. national security.

The widespread consensus in the United States in favor of free trade has diminished in recent years, driven in part by calls for a national industrial policy and fears about the economic rise of China. While free trade is critical to the United States’ economic prosperity and commercial success, the U.S. does have legitimate national-security concerns regarding issues like intellectual property rights or IP theft and espionage originating in nations like China. What does the rise of China mean for the United States? Should the U.S. emulate the state-led economic policies of other nations? What should 21st century trade policy look like for the United States? Rigorous scientific inquiry and academic research can provide valuable information about these topics and be helpful in identifying ideal policy solutions.

Grant Description

Answering those questions requires sober analysis and careful consideration of the issues involved. Therefore, the Charles Koch Foundation is pleased to invite proposals for research and related projects that bridge the gap between theory and practice and contribute to contemporary debates around important trade-policy issues. We are especially interested in research related to the topics below.

getting our approach to trade with china right

  • Examining the potential impact of China’s mega-initiatives on the United States, such as the Belt and Road Initiative or China’s large-scale investments in Africa. This could be along economic, social, diplomatic, and/or security lines.
  • Exploring issues and topics related to U.S-China trade and foreign direct investment and implications for national security.
  • Examining how to better protect U.S. intellectual property in China and other markets.
  • Exploring the impact of Chinese tech theft and commercial espionage on American businesses.
  • Examining the real threat of China as compared to the threat claimed by domestic interest groups, businesses, think tanks, and the media.
  • Exploring opportunities for U.S.-China economic cooperation.
  • Exploring the role of the WTO in dispute settlement.

national industrial policy

  • Assessing the historical track record of national industrial policy in the United States.
  • Conducting a comparative analysis of countries’ industrial policies, with a focus on possible lessons for the United States.
  • Exploring alternative means of achieving the stated goals of national industrial policy, e.g. increasing innovation, productivity growth, unemployment gains, etc.

free trade and flourishing

  • Examining the impact and value of Free Trade Agreements, especially in comparison to managed trade agreements.
  • Presenting solutions to any concentrated costs that may be caused by Free Trade Agreements.

Grant Criteria

  • A one-to-two-page abstract of the project on behalf of your university or college. The abstract should provide sufficient detail for reviewers to assess the nature and feasibility of the idea.*
  • A CV or résumé.*
  • A brief, itemized budget.*
  • Final projects should be original and meet the highest standards of their field, and must not have been previously published.

*Items are required in application.


Funding levels are commensurate with the requirements of the research and the potential for the research to advance an understanding of critical issues. Accepted proposals may also receive support to disseminate the research findings.

Review & Notification Process

Proposals will be accepted and evaluated on a rolling basis.