Hong Kong: China is set to replace the United States as the world's largest economy by 2025 but other emerging markets such as Vietnam, Egypt and Nigeria might offer better growth opportunities for investors, says accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers.

By 2050 China's economy will be 30 per cent bigger than the US economy, PwC predicts in a report entitled The World in 2050: Beyond the Brics.

However, real economic growth in China between now and then will average 6.8 per cent annually, lagging 9.8 per cent growth in Vietnam and 8.5 per cent in India.

The so-called Bric economies - Brazil, Russia, India and China - will continue to offer investment opportunities but so will markets like Nigeria - which is set to overtake South Africa as Africa's biggest economy by 2050 - even though it is high risk, says the accountancy firm.

Development of the middle class in these econ-omies will present huge potential for foreign retailers, energy and utility companies, healthcare and media firms.

But mass market manufacturers will continue to suffer from increased competition from China and new low-cost competitors such as Vietnam, the report says.

"Of course, retailers need to be savvy enough to identify the right business strategies and local partners for such overseas ventures," John Hawksworth, head of macroeconomics at PwC, said.

"This has not always been the case for overseas investments by retailers in the past, particularly in culturally unfamiliar territories such as China or India."

China is set to become the world's biggest consumer market after the United States by 2020.

Brazil could overtake Japan's economy by mid-century. Russia, Mexico and Indonesia by then will be potentially bigger econ-omies than Germany and Britain, the report said.

Fast facts: In the spotlight

Projected average real growth rates for the fastest-expanding emerging economies: 2007-2050:

  • Vietnam 9.8
  • India 8.5
  • Nigeria 8
  • Philippines 7.2
  • Egypt 7.1
  • Bangladesh 7
  • China 6.8
  • Indonesia 6.7
  • Pakistan 6.4

Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers