How Marvel’s Wakanda Got Recognized By the U.S. Government and Why It’s Not Anymore

The United States government has removed the nation of Wakanda from a list of free-trade partners. Now before you cry foul, keep in mind that Wakanda is a fictional country that does not actually exist. This is only restoring its status as a place that only trades with the U.S. in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Wakandan tribes in Marvel's Black Panther
Chadwick Boseman and Winston Duke in Black Panther | Disney

It’s a fun story though. BBC reported the story and all the details of Wakanda’s brief but glorious time as a United States ally. Marvel fans will get to visit Wakanda again in the Black Panther sequel in 2020.

Wakanda in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Marvel Cinematic Universe first introduced Wakanda in Captain America: Civil War. King T’Chaka (John Kani) signed the Sokovia accord to regulate superheroes, but a terrorist attack on the conference claimed his life. His son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) sprung into action trying to hunt the assassin.

In Black Panther, T’Challa assumed the throne and defended Wakanda against Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). The film also introduced T’Challa’s inventor sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and the Dora Milaje warriors Okyoye (Danai Gurira) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). 

Michael B. Jordan vs. Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther
Michael B. Jordan vs. Chadwick Boseman | Disney

The Avengers visited Wakanda for their battle with Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. T’Challa was claimed in The Snap. No spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, but there is already a Black Panther sequel. 

This government agency put Wakanda on the list

According to the BBC, the United States Department of Agriculture previously added Wakanda to a list of free-trade partners. Jane Family Institute fellow Francis Tseng noticed the unusual entry on the list on December 18. 

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

Tseng’s tweet then prompted NBC News to inquire with the USDA. 

Why the USDA took Wakanda seriously

Wakanda ended up on the USDA’s Agricultural Tariff Tracker, which tracks the costs of import and export between free trade partners and the U.S. USDA spokesman Mike Illenberg e-mailed NBC an explanation.

“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,” Illenberg e-mailed NBC. “The Wakanda information should have been removed after testing and has now been taken down.”

So the agency was doing a staff test and used Wakanda as a temporary country. They just forgot to remove it when the sight went live.

America couldn’t get their hands on Vibranium

There was a whole backstory to the profile for Wakanda. According to the test site, the U.S. and Wakanda traded animals such as ducks, donkeys and dairy cows and goods such as vegetables, coffee beans and essential oils. 

Marvel's Wakandan King T'challa
Chadwick Boseman as Wakandan king T’Challa | Disney

NBC reported some of the tariff rates obtained before Wakanda was removed from the site. The U.S. taxed yellow potatoes at .5 cent/kg. Worth it for those tasty Wakandan potatoes! Frozen Chinese water chestnuts and cows were free. You could make Wakandan stir fry tax free!

Not exactly the most exciting stuff for a Black Panther movie. In the Marvel films, the region’s major asset is Vibranium, the metal that powers much of their technology.