Trade Policy Research Grants

Trade Policy Research Grants

Free trade respects the freedom of people to cooperate across borders and promotes economic growth. 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 generates 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 that:

  • Assesses the historical track record of national industrial policy in the United States with respect to social, political, and economic outcomes.
  • Conducts a comparative analysis of countries’ industrial policies, with a focus on possible lessons for the United States.
  • Explores alternative means of achieving the stated goals of national industrial policy, e.g. increasing innovation, productivity growth, unemployment gains, etc.
  • Analyzes the prospects for China’s continued economic growth and development.
  • Examines 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.
  • Explores issues and topics related to U.S-China trade and foreign direct investment and implications for national security.
  • Examines how to better protect or engender respect for U.S. intellectual property in China and other markets.
  • Explores the impact of Chinese tech theft and commercial espionage on American businesses.
  • Examines the impact of domestic interest groups, businesses, think tanks, and the media on threat inflation related to China’s economic growth, business practices, and engagement with the U.S.
  • Explores opportunities for U.S.-China economic cooperation with an emphasis on determining how to get the maximum economic benefits out of the complementary relationship between the two economies consistent with U.S. national-security concerns.
  • Examines the impact of bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements and implications for U.S. trade policy in the 21st century.
  • Explores the role of mutual recognition for trade agreements, within a framework of a possible U.S.-U.K. bilateral trade agreement.

Grant Criteria

    • A short abstract of the project on behalf of your university, college, or other 501(c)(3) organization. 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.


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.

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