After five years of growth, New Zealand's primary exports are heading for a drop in 2021 - but with a bounce back predicted in 2022.
He says New Zealand has a lot of work to do at the far end of the world to keep nations focused on the need to support free trade and international rules based trade.
O'Connor concedes that there will be challenges to get free trade agreements (FTAs) over the line.
"We are in a challenging time. We are probably facing more barriers in spite of our efforts to support the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and to get other economies to support us to get the WTO up to where it belongs," he told Rural News.
"NZ is doing its bit to maintain contact with the relevant ministers despite the pandemic. I have been given a list of European ministers to call over January during my holiday.
"Remaining in contact with those people is really important at a time when they will be very domestic focused."
O'Connor says Covid has changed the world and food security has become a huge focus for many nations.
He says there is a risk that some will put up innappropriate trade barriers to protect their domestic food suppliers.
O'Connor says NZ has to counter that argument and also demonstrate that it can supply high quality, sustainably produced food.