WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- “Wakanda’, Marvel superhero Black Panther’s country, had been listed on the US Department of Agriculture as one among countries that are free-trade agreement partners of the United States.
- That is until Wednesday afternoon when the error was spotted by a fellow of Jain Family Institute who was doing his research and checked on the USDA tariff tracking site.
- It turned out that although Wakanda was actually used for general reference, the agency forgot to remove the name from the list of free trade partner countries.
Wakanda, fictional country and home to Marvel superhero Black Panther, is recognized as a legal place where goods can be imported without tariff fees.
For several weeks up until Wednesday afternoon, the make-believe nation was among the listed free trade agreement partners of the United States on the tariff tracking site of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Real countries included in the list include Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Peru and others.
Federal agricultural officials admitted to NBC that they included Wakanda when testing the system behind the tracker but forgot to remove it from the list afterwards.
“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,” said USDA spokesman Mike Illenberg, who added that the ‘Wakanda’ data should have been taken down after testing.
The blunder was discovered by Jain Family Institute fellow Francis Tseng who, while researching on Wednesday morning on existing trade deals, was shocked to chance upon the USDA tracker and see that Wakanda was included among the real trade partner countries.
“I definitely did a double take,” he said thinking it was odd, at the same time admitted that he checked Wakanda online “to make sure it was actually fiction, and I wasn’t misremembering. I mean, I couldn’t believe it.”
According to NBC reports, Black Panther’s home must have been listed as a real country after June 10 on the site, which contained multiple dummy data inputs on Wakanda’s various price commodities ranging from coffee beans to livestock.
Officials however said on Wednesday that the “information displayed is not official and should only be used as a general reference.” The website also confirmed that Wakanda had already been removed from the website.
Marvel Comics did not respond when asked for a comment.
Source: New York Post