iminplaya writes: China is set to overtake the United States next year as the world's largest producer of manufactured goods, four years earlier than expected, as a result of the rapidly weakening U.S. economy. The great leap is revealed in forecasts for the Financial Times by Global Insight, an economics consultancy based in Boston. According to the estimates, next year China will account for 17% of manufacturing value-added output, while the United States will make 16%. In 2007, the United States was still easily in the top slot and accounted for a fifth of the total. China was second, with 13.2%. The expected change will end more than a 100 years of U.S. dominance. It returns China to a position it occupied, according to economic historians, for 1,800 years, up to about 1840, when Britain became the world's biggest manufacturer after its Industrial Revolution.