Maybe Marvel just did that great a job at making Wakanda look and feel like a believable part of the real world in Black Panther. Or maybe the folks at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are just really big Marvel fans.
Either way, the fictional nation’s evident status as an official free trade partner of the United States has come to an abrupt end, after the MCU’s cloistered African nation spent weeks sitting alongside other real-world nations like Guatemala and Peru on the USDA’s tariff tracking website.
Researcher Francis Tseng, a fellow at the Jain Family Institute, tweeted out a screen capture after he discovered Wakanda among the listings while looking up “how trade deal tariffs affect food distribution and hunger” in other countries, NBC News reports.
Unsurprisingly, the government’s listing of Wakanda as one of the countries with whom the U.S. does high-stakes international business made waves on finance and politics-focused websites, alongside the revelation that Wakanda had actually been showing up for all to see ever since the department debuted the site’s new features back in June.
The inclusion wasn’t just a name drop, either: users were actually able to browse through a lengthy menu filled with the supposed exports Wakanda had up for grabs on the international market.
“There were hundreds of data inputs for Wakanda, a nation that first appeared in the July 1966 Marvel comic Fantastic Four #52,” NBC’s report states. “Different commodity groups offered on drop-down menus range from fresh vegetables and unroasted coffee beans to essential oils and livestock… frozen Chinese water chestnuts were tariff free if the U.S. decided to import them from Wakanda. Cows were also tariff free.”
Sadly, there’s no mention of Wakanda sharing its most treasured resource, Vibranium, with the rest of the global marketplace — probably because it’s a non-agricultural commodity that would fall under some other government regulator besides the USDA.
By now, it’s a moot issue anyway: the USDA has finally removed Wakanda from its trading partner lineup, calling its inclusion in the first place an artifact from the tariff tracker’s testing phase earlier this summer. "The Wakanda information should have been removed after testing and has now been taken down,” a party-pooping USDA spokesman explained.