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Imaginary Nation Wakanda Appears on US Trade List

2019-12-19

The name of an imaginary country in the 2018 movie Black Panther appeared this week in an online list of U.S. trading partners.

The fictional country, called Wakanda, was listed among a group of nations that have trade agreements with the United States.

Black Panther publicity photo. (Marvel Studios)
Black Panther publicity photo. (Marvel Studios)

The list was a creation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA. The USDA told NBC News in a statement that it had used Wakanda during recent testing of the agency’s online publishing system. A USDA spokesman said “the Wakanda information should have been removed after testing and has now been taken down.”

Wakanda is the name of a made-up African nation in the Marvel Comics superhero film Black Panther. The country is home of the Black Panther himself, Prince T’Challa. In the film, Wakanda is a developed, highly technological country.

Francis Tseng, a New York-based computer engineer, discovered Wakanda on the USDA list. He was on the internet and doing research about agricultural tariffs when he came across the unusual listing.

Tseng told Reuters news agency that at first he did not know what to think of the listing. He later decided to publish a screenshot of his finding on Twitter.

“I was very confused at first and thought I misremembered the country from the movie and got it confused with something else,” Tseng told Reuters.

He tweeted: “Wakanda is listed as a US free trade partner on the USDA website??”

The USDA list provided information on examples of the goods traded between Wakanda and the United States. These included “live animals, dairy goods, tobacco and alcohol.” There was no USDA entry for vibranium, a fictional metal from space that is the source of Wakanda’s power.

After the list was corrected, Tseng tweeted: “Well, the USDA took Wakanda off the list. Guess we’re in a trade war with them too.”

On Thursday, the Department of Agriculture showed some humor in admitting to its Wakanda mistake. The USDA tweeted: “While we removed the Kingdom of Wakanda from our list of US free trade partners, our relationship will always be strong #WakandaForever.”

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Reuters reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English, with additional information from NBC News. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

fictional adj. imaginary

tariff n. a tax on goods coming into or leaving a country

screenshot n. an image of what is shown on a computer screen

confused adj. unable to think clearly or understand something

dairy – adj. containing or made from milk

sourcen. a person, place or thing from which something comes

guess – v. to suppose or estimate