TEHRAN (Tehran) – Iran is preparing to allow local companies to import iPhones for the first time to try to curb the huge market in smuggled Apple products.

According to state media, the trade ministry has requested licences from the country’s Trade Promotion Organisation (TPO) for nine Iranian companies to import iPhones, according to the Tasnim news agency.

Unofficial Apple stores are common in Tehran’s up-market malls, and many of the country’s young and wealthy population carry the latest models of iPhone.