CSIS Headquarters, 1st Floor Room 110

Navigating China and the U.S.: A Conversation with Prime Minister José Ulisses de Pina Correia e Silva of Cabo Verde

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

On March 25, 2019, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Africa Program, in collaboration with the Wilson Center Africa Program, welcomed the Prime Minister of the Republic of Cabo Verde, José Ulisses de Pina Correia e Silva, to CSIS’ offices in Washington, D.C. for a discussion around Cabo Verde’s bilateral relations, particularly with China, and how the U.S. can support the country’s interests.

Mr. Judd Devermont, Director of the CSIS Africa Program, opened the discussion by highlighting Cabo Verde’s strong democratic record and history of peaceful transfers of power. He then asked the Prime Minister to focus his comments along two main tracks: his vision for the future of his country, and how he intends to realize that vision while balancing great power relationships.

Prime Minister Correia e Silva then gave his opening remarks, noting that Cabo Verde is an island nation located in a strategic location between Africa, Europe, and the Americas. His goal is to make the country into an important Atlantic partner in the economic, security, and democracy realms. To this end, Cabo Verde is pursuing a dynamic economic strategy to encourage investment in the country in a wide variety of realms. Cabo Verde has a clearly defined strategy for engaging with external partners: the European Union is the preferred economic partner, the United States is the preferred security partner, and China is the preferred partner for infrastructure development. The archipelago is also ideally positioned for greater integration into ECOWAS.

Judd then engaged the Prime Minister in a discussion focusing on Cabo Verde’s external partners, especially China and the United States. The Prime Minister reaffirmed Cabo Verde’s three-pronged strategy. He emphasized that Cabo Verde knows what it wants from its external partners, and its partners know what to expect from Cabo Verde. The Prime Minister noted that their foreign policy is grounded in democracy, rule of law, and trust, and that strong institutions protect their nation from unforeseen consequences from partnerships. Importantly, Cabo Verde has very little bilateral debt, with most of its debts held by multilateral institutions. In terms of improvements, Cabo Verde hopes to attract additional investment and tourism, develop a stronger security alliance with the United States, and enhance their human capital—including their trade negotiation capacity. The Prime Minister made clear that Cabo Verde is open to working with all international partners who respect their laws.

The Prime Minister then engaged with the audience in an open Q&A session, answering questions on multilateral negotiations with China, good governance, areas for great power cooperation, private sector investment in Cabo Verde’s electricity sector, relations with Israel, tourism, and transnational crime—among others. Prime Minister Correia e Silva then gave some final remarks, before Mr. Mike Morrow of the Wilson Center closed the meeting. 


Navigating China and the U.S.: A Conversation with Prime Minister José Ulisses de Pina Correia e Silva



  • Judd Devermont

    Africa Program Director, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Michael Morrow

    Senior Diplomatic Fellow
    Charge d’affaires, United States South Sudan embassy, U.S. Department of State