The surge in interest rates and President-elect Trump's protectionist talk won't necessarily sink emerging market bonds, said Samy Muaddi, fixed income portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price (TROW - Get Report) .
"From a fiscal standpoint, emerging markets are less vulnerable today, with public debt-to-GDP forecasts to be significantly less than those of the G7 economies," said Muaddi.
Sovereign macroeconomic fundamentals in emerging markets have gradually improved thanks to significant political reforms in key markets, tighter fiscal budgets, healthy current account balances and strengthening growth prospects, Muaddi said. All that progress argues for long-term support as investors gradually address their underinvestment to the asset class.
Drilling down, Muaddi said emerging markets monetary policies and inflation expectations are increasingly unsynchronized with countries like Russia, Brazil and India set to cut interest rates, while others like South Africa and Colombia are likely to increase them.
Meanwhile, new political leadership in markets such as Brazil, Argentina and Indonesia is helping to drive positive market changes in those countries. He said China's economic adjustment and significant debt load is a key global risk to monitor.
"We expect growth to slow in China toward a more sustainable long-term trend, but volatility will continue as the effectiveness of government stimulus wanes," said Muaddi.
"U.S. political risk and the direction of the dollar also remain risks," said Muaddi. "Investors increasingly recognize that in an ultralow-yield environment, adding exposure to emerging markets corporate bonds can help further diversify fixed income allocations and increase portfolio yield."