Wakanda, a fictitious nation that exists only within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is not a real country, was listed as a U.S. trading partner on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) website, The Washington Post reports. According to the entry, the two countries purportedly trade ducks, donkeys, and dairy cows with one another.
The federal government keeps records and data on just about everything and it can be surprising what sort of information is available on government websites. Francis Tseng, a New York-based software engineer, found himself finding some obscure information as he was looking up agricultural tariffs for a fellowship he was applying for not too long ago.
On the USDA Trade Tracker Tool — which tracks the cost of importing and exporting goods from countries that have free trade agreements with the United States — Tseng found the Kingdom of Wakanda listed, as well as a detailed list of the goods the two countries supposedly traded. These include the aforementioned animals, fresh vegetables, unroasted coffee beans, essential oils, and other livestock.
Some of the data Tseng uncovered showed that Wakandan potatoes were being charged a tariff of half a cent per kilogram. There was no tariff on frozen Chinese water chestnuts from Wakanda, however, nor was there one on Wakandan cows.
Tseng says that when he first saw the Wakanda entry, he was confused, believing for a second that his memory had been muddled and that Wakanda was a real place.
Once he realized that the kingdom doesn’t actually exist and never has, he took to Twitter to share his strange find with the internet.
Wakanda is listed as a US free trade partner on the USDA website?? pic.twitter.com/xcq1OFTIPh— Francis Tseng (@frnsys) December 18, 2019
Soon, the snark was flowing. One reporter, for example, asked how things were progressing in trade talks between the U.S. and a fictional city from another Disney movie.
“Where are things at on negotiations with Agrabah?” they asked.
As it turns out, no one within the USDA actually believes that Wakanda is a real place. Rather, as USDA spokesman Mike Illenberg explained, Wakanda’s entry was added to the system as part of a testing process and it never got removed.
“The Wakanda information should have been removed after testing and has now been taken down,” he said.
For those unfamiliar with the origins of Wakanda, it first appeared in a Marvel comic in the 1960s as the fictional home of the superhero Black Panther. In its portrayal in the MCU, Wakanda is actually a wealthy and technologically-advanced nation that had hidden itself from the rest of the world for years, instead using cloaking technology to portray itself as economically and technologically depressed.