Iran's National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) plans to counter US and European Union oil sanctions by reducing the oil prices for its customers, Mehr news agency reported Friday. "Making our oil export prices lower is a winning card for Iran in the times of sanctions," the head of the NIOC international department, Mohsen Qamsari, told Mehr. In January, the EU approved an embargo against Iranian oil and a freeze on the accounts of the Iranian central bank in an attempt to force Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities. "By lowering the prices, we could eliminate many of our competitors from the oil market," Qamsari said. Earlier this month there had been reports that Iran offered Asian oil buyers easier credit terms in an effort to counter the sanctions. Qamsari predicted that if the next round of nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers on May 23 in Baghdad failed, the world market would witness an oil price hike. The Western sanctions included an immediate ban on new import contracts. Existing import contracts are to be terminated by July 1. An estimated 18% of Iranian oil exports go to the EU, mainly to Greece, Italy and Spain. The main importers of Iranian oil are India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.