BANGKOK, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong gifted founder of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba Jack Ma with a fresh "golden pillow," the kingdom's most famous variety of durian, at a signing ceremony on Thursday.
Ma, who has agreed to help build a digital hub in Thailand, has surprised the Thais by selling 80,000 golden pillow durians on his online platform T-mall within just one minute.
Alibaba has signed a durian deal worth 428 million U.S. dollars with the Thai government.
The "golden pillow" durian, Thailand's most well known exported variety, has been sold on Alibaba's online supermarket on Wednesday, a day before Ma signed four memorandums of understanding with the Thai government on trade, investment, support for e-commerce and tourism.
The Chinese e-commerce giant is reportedly splashing about 330 million U.S. dollars in Thailand as it aims to tap Chinese consumers' appetite for the Southeast nation's agricultural goods and its tourism market.
At the ceremony, Alibaba and the Thai Commerce Ministry launched the first official Thai rice flagship store on T-mall, the world's largest third-party platform for brands and retailers, besides driving the sale of popular Thai fruits into China.
Alibaba also pledges to assist Thai agriculture businesses in harnessing the power of the company's insights into the Chinese market.
"China is on its way to be the world's largest consumer, driven by rising income and a growing middle class of 300 million. There is no better time than now for trade-oriented countries to seize this opportunity to export to China as the country continues to open its doors wider for global trade," said Ma.
Alibaba first came to Thailand in 2016 when it partnered with the Thai government to strengthen e-commerce capabilities for small- and medium-sized businesses in the kingdom with a population of more than 68 million.
"Given Thailand's unique strengths in people and culture, we are confident of its future and growth potential under the government's policy to expand the economy beyond heavy industry and agriculture to technology and other innovations," said Ma.
He also promised to produce results of mutual benefits from Alibaba's investments in Thailand by the end of 2019 when he met with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha before the signing ceremony.