The United States Department of Agriculture has removed “Wakanda” from its list of trade partners after a social media user called out the bizarre mistake on Wednesday.
The error was first spotted by Francis Tseng, who tweeted screenshots on Wednesday morning. Wakanda is the fictional home of Black Panther, a Marvel Universe hero who is also the hidden isolationist country’s monarch. Being a creation of Stan Lee, however, Wakanda has little to offer our country in trade. Still, it was temporarily listed in the Agricultural Tariff Tracker on the official USDA website.
Wakanda is listed as a US free trade partner on the USDA website?? pic.twitter.com/xcq1OFTIPh
— Francis Tseng (@frnsys) December 18, 2019
According to a statement by USDA spokesperson Mike Illenberg, the mistake was due to using Wakanda as a test but neglecting to remove it before publishing the report:
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.
Tseng seems to approve of the USDA decision to de-list the imaginary technological Utopia from which Marvel’s Black Panther emerged. “FWIW,” he quipped, “the US would no doubt try to liberalize Wakanda’s markets and flood it with cheap subsidized corn.”
And with tongue firmly in cheek, the USDA made their own follow-up announcement on Twitter. “While we removed the Kingdom of Wakanda from our list of US free trade partners,” they said, “our relationship will always be strong. #WakandaForever”
— Dept. of Agriculture (@USDA) December 19, 2019
Some were unwilling to laugh along with the USDA, however. The department’s replies are filled with criticism for incompetence. “Go do your job,” one user wrote, linking to an April 2019 story in which black farmers were allegedly sold bad seed to push them out of business.
Unfortunately, it seems King T’Challa will need to look toward other nations — perhaps Atlantis or Lemuria — for agricultural trade.