The list included hundreds of data inputs for Wakanda with different commodity groups offered on drop-down menus.
Apparently, Donald Trump isn't feeling the Wakandan fever anymore. The President's trade wars took a stranger than usual turn this week when a keen-eyed netizen noticed an unusual entry in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Tariff Tracker. Listed right alongside Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru was Wakanda—the fictional country from the popular 2018 Marvel superhero movie Black Panther. However, T'Challa's home kingdom was kicked off the list before the internet actually got a chance to finish its cries of "Wakanda forever!"
According to NBC News, the unusual entry in USDA tariff tracker—the government-operated tool which tracks the cost of importing and exporting goods from countries that have free trade agreements with the United States—was first spotted by Francis Tseng, a fellow at the Jain Family Institute, on Wednesday morning. He had been looking for a resource that examined existing trade deals when he chanced upon the list and was instantly stunned by what he'd discovered. "I definitely did a double-take. I Googled Wakanda to make sure it was actually fiction, and I wasn’t misremembering. I mean, I couldn’t believe it," said Tseng.
US government lists fictional nation Wakanda as trade partner https://t.co/TUhqSxgwaS— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) December 19, 2019
The publication reported that the list included hundreds of data inputs for Wakanda with different commodity groups offered on drop-down menus. From fresh vegetables and unroasted coffee beans to essential oils and livestock, each commodity group had been given separate entries which detailed the tariffs for each product. "Yellow potatoes had to maintain a “0.5 cent/kg” base rate when shipped in from the fictional East African nation, while frozen Chinese water chestnuts were tariff-free if the U.S. decided to import them from Wakanda. Cows were also tariff-free," NBC reported.
Wakanda is listed as a US free trade partner on the USDA website?? pic.twitter.com/xcq1OFTIPh— Francis Tseng (@frnsys) December 18, 2019
The website did, however, state that the “information displayed is not official and should only be used as a general reference. Each importing countries customs office maintains the right for final determination of tariff treatment." With Tseng's discovery catching the internet's attention, the Marvel Universe nation was kicked off of the list later the same day and the Trump administration shrugged off the incident by chalking it up to a lack of attention to detail.
fwiw, the US would no doubt try to liberalize Wakanda's markets and flood it with cheap subsidized corn— Francis Tseng (@frnsys) December 19, 2019
"Over the past few weeks, the Foreign Agricultural Service staff who maintain the Tariff Tracker have been using test files to ensure that the system is running properly. The Wakanda information should have been removed after testing and has now been taken down," USDA spokesman Mike Illenberg said in a statement. Meanwhile, the internet had a field day with the Trump Administration's Marvel connection and the tweets that came out the fiasco are absolutely pure gold:
So do we, or do we not have free trade with Wakanda? Also where are things at on negotiations with Agrabah? https://t.co/g18e8WtXWF— Christopher Heath (@CHeathWFTV) December 18, 2019
The USDA has Wakanda listed as an official trade partner on its website...— Cabot Phillips (@cabot_phillips) December 18, 2019
Trump made America so great that even fictitious super hero countries wanna do business with us. pic.twitter.com/MKvdG8LMqU
BREAKING NEWS: The US Government listed Black Panther's Wakanda as a free trade partner.— Marlon McCaulsky #MyCurrentSituation (@McCaulskyMarlon) December 19, 2019
UPDATE: King T'Challa has declined the US government's invitation and will not be sharing its vibranium. Trump and his colonizers will never touch Wakandain in soil. #WAKANDAFOREVER pic.twitter.com/Z3S55qOySs
While we removed the Kingdom of Wakanda from our list of US free trade partners, our relationship will always be strong #WakandaForever pic.twitter.com/wiRSCIdfGh— Dept. of Agriculture (@USDA) December 19, 2019